Going Deeper 2/22/2019

The Gospel reading for Epiphany 7...
Luke 6:27-38  "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  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.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  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.  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.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 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."

Here is a question I believe is worth pondering: What if for the last nearly 2000 years Christians had taken these teachings of Jesus literally?  More than that, what if the descendants of Abraham had lived out the kind of interdependent communal lifestyle God called them to in the Covenant relationship He established with them at Mount Sinai?  What if people--then and now--really took the words and warnings of the prophets seriously and changed their/our ways?  How different would our history look? How different would the world look now?

Yes, I can hear some people saying that I need to get my head out of the clouds and live in the 'real' world.  Even Jesus said that there would be "wars and rumors of wars."  Yeah... but I don't really like the real world.  I believe it to be broken, and the conflicts that divide God's children have made much of the world a dangerous place to live.  There are better ways to respond to evil than with retribution and vindictiveness.  

There is little doubt that the brokenness of the world and all who live upon it make it necessary at times to defend others and ourselves against those who would kill and destroy those who are weaker.  There have been and are "just" wars, when those who are able to come to the defense of others must do so.  But on the other hand, if we practiced the principles Jesus lays out in this text, we would most likely have a lot fewer enemies.

It is very difficult-- seemingly impossible-- to change the world, but we should never stop trying.  The most powerful change must first happen within ourselves.  

With You in His Love,
Mark