Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday, June 20 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Kings 25; Psalm 119:33-40; Romans 6.
Today's scripture focus is  Luke 6:27-28.

27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who [a]mistreat you.

Oh, boy.  These verses here are probably one of the biggest indicators of whether we have truly given our lives to Christ.  These things are the very opposite of our instincts most times, aren't they?  If you've worked in a position of service, then you know how difficult it can be to do good to some people, and it doesn't even have to have anything to do with you personally.  A customer comes in upset about something that has nothing to do with you, but they treat you as though it's your fault, and what is your first reaction?  Defensiveness.  Which usually makes you want to tell them where to go rather than assist them with the problem.  Mark Driscoll says the following in his sermon The Beatitudes, Part 1:

But love your enemies, and do good, ...

What he’s saying is take everything that you hold dear, and let it go. Jesus did. Did he have wealth? No. Did he have comfort? No. Was he in an official position of power? No. Did he have fame? He had fame, and then he had all of that fame turned toward venom. The same crowds who shouted, “Hosanna, Hosanna” shouted, “crucify him, crucify him,” so fame could be fleeting as well. And so Jesus is saying that the kingdom ethic is love, to love your enemies.

Who are your enemies? Don’t let this live in an ethereal, ideological, philosophical world. Right now in your mind, see the face of your enemy, the person who has done you the most harm, the most damage, the most evil, the most injustice, has caused the most grief, the most stress, the most anguish, the most strife, and Jesus says love.

Secondly, do good to those who hate you. He says, “It’s easy to do good to those who do good to you, do those who hate you.” Who hates you? Who really dislikes you? Who really despises you? Perhaps even who has disowned you, who has disregarded you? What he says is do good to them. Be kind to them, acts of grace, and mercy, and kindness. Don’t return evil for evil, the Scripture says elsewhere.

Number three: he says to bless those who curse you. How difficult is it when someone curses you, they speak evil against you, they attack you with their words, they malign your character, they gossip about you, rumor mongering, half truths and lies. The tendency is to throw more logs on the fire, Proverbs would say, and stoke it into a great inferno. That’s where James says that the tongue sets ablaze a mighty fire, and what he says is put water on that fire, not another log. No more reviling or gossip or anger or bitterness. Don’t return negative comment for negative comment, or negative blog for negative blog, or criticism for criticism; bless, bless, bless. And I want you to see this, friends, the most painful parts of life are the most glorious opportunities to live out the kingdom ethics. And so for the Christian what can often happen is when we find ourselves in these circumstances, we can ask God, “Why am I being persecuted, why am I poor? Why am I hungry, why am I hurting, why am I suffering, why am I opposed, why am I struggling?” And the Father would say, “Blessed are you. That’s a blessing. I’m giving you an opportunity to experience a bit of what Jesus did. I’m giving you an opportunity to become a little more like Jesus is, and I’m giving you an opportunity to show others a little bit of who Jesus is.” It’s an opportunity.

Every situation really comes down to your view of God. If you believe God is a God of woe, and he’s always judging you, and he’s always angry at you, and he’s always cursing you, and he’s always consequenting you, then when tragedy, strife, grief, poverty, and pain come, you’re angry at God, you’re frustrated, you run from God, you’re depressed, you’re despairing. And if you believe Jesus’ words, “Blessed are you,” you rejoice in all circumstances, and you look for the opportunity to practice the kingdom ethic, and to become a better kingdom citizen.

He goes on to say, “Pray for those who mistreat you.” You should have a list: who has mistreated you, who is mistreating you, in the future, who will mistreat you, keep a list. Does that mean you don’t call the cops if they broke the law, or you don’t call the church if there needs to be discipline, you don’t confront them if they’re in sin? Not at all, but you pray for them, two reasons: your heart and their heart. Your heart, that when you approach them, you do so righteously, not vindictively, not seeking your own vengeance, and you pray for their heart, that they would come to repentance and their senses, that they would come to Jesus, their king, that they would bow their knee, that they would join his kingdom, and that they too would become brothers and sisters in the kingdom.
Whew!  Tough stuff.  Two little verses, four little phrases, and they are absolutely some of the most difficult things to follow through on.

These verses have been running through my head this week, so I'm just going to share them here at the end, because they do accompany today's verses nicely, I think:

Romans 5:3-5:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  (emphasis mine)
Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 6:29-30.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 Chronicles 1-2; Psalm 119:41-48; Romans 7.


tammi said...

Looking a little more closely at this passage and tomorrow's, I have to wonder exactly how seriously I've taken what it means to live like a Christian. It really amazes me how much like the world I tend to think with respect to what's being taught here.

No wonder I don't stand out. :/

Tammy said...

This is definitely tough stuff! What struck me too is that we are to be proactive about this - purposefully being loving to our enemies. So countercultural - so counterme! Only possible through the supernatural power of Christ that dwells within us. May we be willing to humble ourselves to love like this.