Jesus said, “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…” (Luke 6:27-28)
This weekend, we will continue through Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain.” It is remarkably similar to the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew, though with some key distinctions. However, our passage for this weekend is perhaps one of the strongest connections between the two. He speaks strong words that ring clearly through both gospels.
Living within a “Christian culture” down South, we often forget to think about how controversial Jesus’ preaching actually was. Either that, or we don’t want to remember. For the moment we do, then we start getting into the realm of social justice and nonviolent resistance (gasp).
Contrary to what some in the media and some individuals will tell us, we cannot divest Jesus’ gospel message from social justice or nonviolent resistance – because they are two of its most essential elements. And this passage from Luke 6 is case and point:
Most will tell you to not seek retribution, but go a step beyond that and love your enemies. Anyone can fight back with violence, but go a step further and turn your other cheek to your oppressor so that they will be thrown off balance. Everyone knows you should give alms, but go to the next level and let go of things that are stolen from you. Do not judge. Do not condemn. Forgive.
Anyone else feel like they’re ready to argue with these concepts? All of us have at some point. Because if we really listen to Jesus, he is presenting a method of living that does not seek fairness (something we desperately want). Instead this way of living goes head to head with a fallen world and shows tangible love where others seek only their own entitlement.
Not so everyone can be a doormat. That is not what it says.
Jesus calls for us to resist. To show the world what it should look like. And to meet violence with nonviolence, because it is only when we stand peacefully in the face of oppression that we can show others how truly ugly our world can be. Jesus knew it and lived it. Bonhoeffer knew it and lived it. King knew it and lived it.
We can too. When we begin to live into this controversial way of being, then the world will slowly but surely be knocked off-kilter and begin to change. We have to get out of the status quo to see what is wrong. We have to see what is wrong in order that we might mend it.
And God is in the business of mending it. Not just us as individuals. Not just the family of faith. The whole world. Re-creating it in the image of the God who is Love, who is Life, who is Community.
May we hear Christ’s words and feel the witness of so many who have gone before us as we approach this familiar text this weekend.