Uncomfortable Commands

Life Notes—June 3, 2010 

“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… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Luke 6:27, 31 

A number of years ago a former pastor of our church, Virgil Brady, did a series of sermons entitled, “Things I Wish Jesus Had Never Said.”  Although I no longer remember the specific passages used, I do remember a long string of uncomfortable recommendations from Jesus to us.  Unlike the more familiar Ten Commandments of the Old Testament (Thou shalt not kill, steal, covet, etc…), these are less intuitive, but in many ways much more difficult.  Some of us may go through our entire lives without really wanting to kill someone.  But few of us make it through a day (or hour) without wishing harm to someone we dislike, even if it’s just a character on a television show. 

The sermon passage for this Sunday is full of things I wish Jesus had never said, a few of which are quoted above from the Gospel of Luke.  “Love your enemies.”  “Do good to those who hate you.”  “Bless those who curse you.”  “Pray for those who abuse you.”  These are hard things to do because they go against the grain of our natural reactions.  They stretch us beyond our comfort zones.  These commandments are really hard to follow because they challenge us day after day after day after day after day. 

I read in a book recently (Lamb, by Christopher Moore) that if we are to truly love our enemies we must treat everyone as equal to ourselves.  That means we cannot consider ourselves better or worse than anyone else.  And yet we are forever, everyday, comparing ourselves to what we see in others: “I would never treat others as poorly as my boss treats me.”  Or, “If I had the blessings and gifts of (this person) I would be much more generous than they.”  Or, “That person has no reason to complain…”  I think Jesus may be telling us we are that person; and the change to the person he calls us to be begins within. 

One key to understanding these easier-to-ignore commandments comes a few verses later: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)  Jesus calls us to be different, to stretch ourselves beyond our natural reactions, to be known by our real and active love for others, even (especially?) the unlovable.  If we act like everyone else, what good are we to them?  Or to ourselves?  Or to Christ? 

Tom’s sermon title this week is “Ideal Words for Unusual Times,” based on the scripture Luke 6:27-36.  Life worship begins at 10:45 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus begins at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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