Did You Know? –From Feasting on the Word
• Charles Bugg, Professor of Church Ministry and Leadership, writes the greatest challenge of these passages from Luke is how are we to be merciful and not respond to violence with violence. Those who have grown up in violence can have an ingrained response. Writes Bugg, “Images that guide behavior are hard to change.” He states that the call of Luke is to live a new way contrary to our human nature with Christ as our strength.
(New Revised Standard Version)
Love for Enemies
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 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. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 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. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.[a] Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
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; 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.”
Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading—Pastor Pam
These passages in Luke make me think about grace and what it means, what it looks and feels like and how we are even aware it is in us and around us. Grace to me is pure God. It’s that extra measure of stamina we need to rise above anger and meanness. It’s seeing the beauty of creation and being appreciative of little things. It’s feeling the blessings of life when good happens and experiencing God’s healing presence in moments of great suffering.
So, grace is all these things? Yes, and more. One way I think about it is God’s way of showing us the way in all situations. It’s like the lights on the floor of an airline cabin or the lights people often put in their yards to light up a path. These are extra things we humans do to make it easier to see in the dark. God has all manner of ways to give us that extra measure to be the merciful people God created us to be. In the heat of battle, listen and look.
The things required of us in Luke seem like it would take a super hero to accomplish. I read these passages, take a deep breath, and say, “Yes, but…” Whatever the situation we may find ourselves in, it can be automatic to react the way we immediately want to, but Jesus tells us to go a different way. When I am in this struggling place, I do my best to look for God’s grace to give me the strength not to return ugly with ugly. Jesus, I pray, what is the higher ground you call me to? Where are your signs?
Grace and Peace,