Friday, February 1, 2013

Counter-cultural Commands

Luk 6:20  Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Luk 6:21  "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Luk 6:22  "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Luk 6:23  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Luk 6:24  "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Luk 6:25  "Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
Luk 6:26  "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Luk 6:27  "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Luk 6:28  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luk 6:29  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Luk 6:30  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
Luk 6:31  Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luk 6:32  "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luk 6:33  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34  If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
Luk 6:35  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Luk 6:36  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luk 6:37  "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Luk 6:38  give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

This collection of the sayings of Jesus – often called the Sermon on the Plain - finds a parallel in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5.6 & 7).  Both collections are significant for the way in which we as followers of Jesus struggle to adhere to the instruction of our teacher. We are attracted to the warm, forgiving Jesus who offers compassion and care for the poor, the marginalized and the children. But we tend to skip the bits where Jesus instructs his followers to do the same: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you”(Lk 6:27) looks better when Jesus is doing it. When I am expected to “love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” (Lk 6:35), it is far less attractive.

The power of the gospel lies in these radical commands. Our greedy, self-serving culture celebrates the accumulation of wealth, the abuse of power, and the rejection of the weak. I invite us to read these teachings of Jesus with fresh eyes. Decide to put one (yes – just one) of them into practice today.   

Prayer: Lord Jesus. Please disturb me out of my comfortable life, that I might discover your invitation to live my life in a new way. Amen.  


Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
“The Authority of God’s Word”
(Scripture reference page 71 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)




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