But I Say to You . . .

Although we would probably never think of it this way, I’m wondering if most of us don’t have at least a few passages of Scripture that, if we don’t out and out ignore them, we at the least brush past them with a “Yeah right! As if!” mentality.

Passages that just seem so far out there that they couldn’t possibly actually apply to every day life. Commands that we consider too radical to think that we can really realize them.

In light of recent world events, Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 hit me this morning as possibly one of those passages.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

(Matthew 5:38-39, 44-45 ESV)

You’ve heard it said. But I say to you.

There’s conventional wisdom, then there’s Christ’s wisdom. There’s the way of the world, and then there’s the way of the kingdom. A way for the sons of the earth to respond, and a way for the sons of the Father who is in heaven.

Don’t retaliate? Don’t answer back with a proportionate response? Turn the other cheek when you’ve already been slapped once? Really?

Love my enemies? Pray for those who persecute me? If God’s going to let the sun shine on the unjust then just trust God? Really, too?

I get that governments are given authority to protect their people. I don’t expect that the Sermon on the Mount is pulled out in the Situation Room. But I guess I’m thinking more about us sojourners in this land who are citizens of another.

How do we as ambassadors of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:20) think about such things? How do we as light on a hill shine in the dark trenches of the world? What would it mean if, at least in our hearts, and then through our speech, we modeled what it looks like to turn the other cheek? Would we dare, if even in our closets in secret, pray for our enemies?

More questions than answers. But, I guess, as I hover over Jesus’ radical kingdom teaching, I’m thinking afresh of what it means to be of His kingdom while not yet physically in the kingdom. And what it means to be in this world but not of this world.

Governments will do what they gotta do on the world stage. But how do God’s people think about it and talk about it in the public square? How do we demonstrate the heart of the One who provides the way of true peace when so much of the focus is on the one who can wield the greatest power?

Lord Jesus, through Your Spirit in us, help us to think like children of our Father in heaven. To speak like children of our Father in heaven. And ,if by only turning the other cheek in our heart and praying for enemies where others don’t hear us, to love with the same love we have received as children of our Father in heaven.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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1 Response to But I Say to You . . .

  1. Penny says:

    In our denomination we pray for God “to
    rule the hearts of those who bear the authority of government in this and every land that they may be led to make wise decisions and right actions for the welfare and peace of the world”. I have always liked that…covers a lot of ground and removes ideology. Doesn’t say we love our “enemy” but does ask for divine guidance. This is a prayer that can be spoken publicly, without shame IMHO. And, maybe, just maybe, hearts will be softened at all levels of government in this and every land…perhaps all our hearts.whether governors or governed.

    Thank you for your faithfulness to study and share.

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