Today's Bible In a Year reading: 1 Chronicles 1-2; Psalm 119:41-48; Romans 7
Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 6:29-30 - Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back
Accompanying MacArthur sermon: The Actions of Kingdom Love
Focusing specifically on the "turn the other cheek" portion of this passage, one thing that really stood out for me is MacArthur's description of HOW this is godly love lived out. He says, "This is not about having somebody mug you at night somewhere when you're in a vulnerable position and you are lying down and say, 'Oh, kick me again, kick me again, this is virtue, this is virtue.' It's not about that." What it IS about, is accepting that we will be ridiculed, despised, and humiliated for following Christ, because the world hates, ridicules, despises, and humiliated Jesus, and CONTINUING TO ACTIVELY LOVE THE PERPETRATORS ANYWAY.
MacArthur tells about the processes involved in being "un-synagogued" by the Jews and how it not only often involved 39 lashes with leather thongs (which thoroughly tore up the skin because they usually contained bits of embedded stone), but also included the symbolic humiliation of a physical slap across the face in full view of the congregation. This, he says, is what Jesus is referring to here. When we use the expression, "it's like a slap in the face," it's roughly the same idea ~ the humiliation, the degradation, we experience when someone treats us with disrespect. (or, at least, less respect than we think we deserve)
It's the determination to love despite being mistreated (whether as a direct result of our faith or for any other reason, I believe) that will set us apart as having a very different kind of love than the world has. It's easy enough to love those who love us, to do nice things for the people we know will do nice things for us, but to show kindness and respect to those who have mistreated us and hurt us, is unique. It defies conventional, worldly wisdom. It certainly goes against our human nature! But that's exactly why it will make us stand out, will make us recognizable as followers of Christ.
It is the vulnerability of loving repeatedly, despite the consequences, despite the pain, because the love doesn't come from us. It comes from a gracious, reconciling God who cares about the souls of mankind and doesn't wish "that any should perish."
This sermon hit me hard because there are a couple of people in my life who I am simply not willing to love this way. They have done things and said things directly to me as well as behind my back that have made me feel I'm perfectly within my rights to have nothing to do with them ever again. And to not necessarily speak well of them if the subject comes up in conversation with others either.
But this verse says that's not true.
At least, not if I claim to be a Christian and that my mission, my desire, is to win others to Christ by loving like He loved.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: 1 Chronicles 3-4
Monday's scripture focus passage: Luke 6:31-38
Both Chandler and MacArthur explain the cultural significance of these verses very well, which is a huge help in understanding what Jesus is saying here. It's not a slam against self-defense. It's a call to love despite humiliation, despite poor treatment, despite people taking advantage of us. So so so hard.
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