Not what you want to hear, what you need to hear

Our text today is Luke 6:27-38: When Christ preached, he never intended to give people what they wanted to hear, but instead, give them what they needed to hear. Although his miracles, healing and free food had attracted lots of people, he still gave them the hard truth – that following him would be a tough road.

In Luke Chapter 6, Christ speaks to all his disciples and tells them what being a disciple truly looks like. This is not a description of how to get to heaven. This is a description of how the committed disciple of Christ should try to live his or her life. It is a sermon not just about outward actions and behaviours, but about the inner attitudes of the heart. The sermon is entirely about attitude. For the disciple of Christ, attitude is everything.

Related to these are four essentials to true happiness. You will be happy or blessed as a disciple of Christ if you keep your faith in God, if you love others, if you are honest with yourself, and if you obey God.

In our text today, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, Pray for those who abuse you.” For some people this is the most liberating message they have heard but for other people, this message is very oppressive.

In most situations, loving your enemies is very difficult. This is impossible for people who hear the words, ‘love the person who assaulted you’, or ‘pray for those who abused you when you were a child’, or ‘love that person who ruined your life so badly that living is now a struggle’, or ‘pray for someone who was responsible for the death of someone very close to you.’

What exactly is Jesus saying? Jesus is not telling people to remain victims but to find new ways of resisting evil. “Love your enemies,” Jesus said, “do good to those who hate you.” This saying moved Martin Luther King, Jr, to kneel down with many brothers and sisters before water hoses and terrifying police dogs. The police didn’t know what to do with this kind of resistance. This was something they hadn’t seen before — victims who refused to fight back with violence.

Jesus said, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” This real story comes from the U.S. about Matthew Shepherd’s mother. Matthew was brutally beaten for being gay. He died shortly after that. The two men who killed Matthew were arrested and given the death penalty. But Matthew’s mother came before the judge and asked if the lives of the two men could be spared.

“Love your enemies, Jesus said, “do good to those who hate you.” When I hear these words, I think of the story above. I don’t know if I could do that, but such love can change the world.

God’s love for us is overwhelmingly generous, and we are expected to respond in kind. Jesus wants us to learn from God’s example, and treat others the way God treats us.

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