Sermon on the Plain, part 9

After a month long hiatus, I am back. Between filling out paperwork, faxing stuff, packing and moving to Arizona, I just have not found the time to write on my blog. But we are back and I pray that this is edifying and helping to grow you up in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of Jesus, let’s pick up where we left off in Luke 6.32. We were discussing the love for our enemies part of this sermon and I submitted to that Jesus does not want us to become door mats but is rather, through hyperbolic teaching, emphasizing the type of love for your (my) enemy we are to have. It is a sacrificial love; the same kind of love we are to have for our brothers.

Now Jesus is going to ask some rhetorical questions to his audience and indeed to us today. The first question is in verse 32:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?”

The answer Jesus gives: everyone in the world does this kind of thing. Even the dreaded ‘sinners’ do that sort of thing. ‘Sinners’ also do good to those who do good to them. Hence, it is of no credit to the disciple to the same as the rest of the world. No, Christians are better than that; I submit they are proactive in the good doing and loving showing. And here is why I say Jesus does not want us to be the door mats of his hyperbolic teaching. Proactivity will beat the “enemy” to the punch. We get the drop on him before he can slap our face, steal our coat, or take our wallet. Hence, Jesus’ statement in v.35:

“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

That is to say based on your love for your enemy, before he even asks for anything, you’re giving it. You’re busy doing good to him and giving, being proactive in showing your enemy your love for him. It is this kind of proactive love that Jesus is calling the disciple to because, as verse 36 commands (all “be’s” in Scripture are imperative commands): “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

To demonstrate proactive love to your enemy and to do good to him before he can do evil to you is to be like the Father for he was proactive in his love toward us. Before we could sin against him through disobedience, he had a proactive love which planned a plan for our salvation. He was merciful before mercy was needed. From before time, God was active in showing his love to his “enemies” (Romans 5.10) by preparing in advance the vicarious death of Jesus. Therefore, to be proactive in love toward our enemies, we are identifying with God and his mercy.

I do not presume to say that this is the only inpretation. Clint also has some great ideas about this passage which I look forward to hearing. And also you, constant reader, feel free to correct or expound upon these thoughts as well.

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4 thoughts on “Sermon on the Plain, part 9”

  1. Is it hot down there?

    I had to get the stupid question out of the way….

    This is probably a deep well of conflict and controversy…but, based on Jesus’ teachings about loving our enemies and turning other cheeks, what do you think about self-defense? Does a Christian have the right to defend themselves with force?

    Just thought I would be that guy who comments just to stir things up.

  2. I like your take on this…proactively loving those who are or could be our enemies. I think that is truer to what Jesus said than many of the “explanatory” interpretations I’ve heard.

    The problem is the huge chasm between saying and doing. I can say that I love my enemy, but when I am face to face with him it is a difficult thing to do. In the back of my mind I remember something about my other cheek, but my self-preservation instinct kicks in after the first slap.

    But, love is active and sacrificial. It is not just a word, not just a fuzzy feeling. It is Christ on a cross, bloody and weak because He did not revile or threaten or retaliate. If Christ went to His death to show His love for His enemies, what ought we to do if we are mistreated or threatened? According to Jesus, the love we have for enemies is at least supposed to be the same as the love we have for those who love us, for family, for friends.

    I believe 1Peter 2:13-25 has a lot to say on the subject, practically speaking. Peter tells us to submit to government and other authorities (i.e.- your boss) even when they are unjust…in other words, even if you are treated unfairly you show honor and respect to them rather than retaliate or sue or just quit. Why? “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” [1Peter 2:19] Popular culture says, “God wouldn’t want me to suffer…especially unjustly.” Peter says, “To suffer…especially unjustly…is a gracious thing.”

    My main point is that we need to be careful about rationalizing any type of retaliatory behavior just because we think we are being treated unfairly…as Paul says, “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” [1Corinthians 6:7b]

    So, there are some of my views…for what they are worth.

  3. Yes it is hot “down here.” Yesterday it was over 100 however today it is supposed to cool off…to the low-to-mid 90’s. Yes, this is very close to paradise…with its 360 days of sun a year weather. But, to say the least, we are loving it and already they have got me in the mix; preaching Sundays and teaching tonight. So far, so good.

    I also wanted to touch on something you (Clint) mentioned in one of your comments: the saying and doing thing. Isn’t that the major problem we always face when challenged with obedience. Indeed, the words of James are very apt here: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says” (James 1.22). How many times do Christians “pack the pews,” listen to the sermon, but do nothing with it? Every single Christian is guilty of this very thing. So the proactive love Jesus calls for in Luke 6 is no different. It is a matter of how will this show up in my life if I am going to take this seriously and soberly. Do I have an enemy to whom I show goodness toward, or love, or kindness? Then, what am I going to about it? In the words of James, very simply “do it.”

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