I have no idea, none on how I am going to preach this text this coming week. I mean the text is not actually all that hard to understand it’s pretty plain, but it seems a bit extreme to me. I’m not sure I want to stand in the pulpit next week and tell those who gather that they need to let people who would hurt them, hurt them more and I am pretty sure I am not going to, but the passage almost suggests that very thing.
Jesus in this week’s reading calls those listening to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. It seems like a reasonable invitation and most people want to try to be better than they already are, although we recognize realistically we are not perfect it is a good thing to strive for no?
But to be honest I am not sure I want to be perfect if it involves what Jesus seems to suggest it involves in the text. Well at least I am not sure I have it in me. It’s one thing to turn the other cheek on something minor….but there are serious things that happen in people’s lives and can I really tell them that they should just offer the rest of themselves as well….like say in the case of abuse?
Some preachers have used this text to that end, but it is good for us to remember the context. This text is part of a greater text where Jesus is calling his followers back to the original intent of the law.
The law put a cap on the amount of revenge a person could seek to enforce on another, if they took your eye you were entitled to take theirs…but Jesus is really saying don’t retaliate, don’t seek out revenge. When a crime was committed in Jesus day, retaliation was expected but Jesus really is saying let it go. Can I really do that when my natural instinct is to hurt those who hurt me
Can I really love my enemies in the same way I love those around me whom I find easy to love? Because that is what Jesus is calling me to do, he is calling me to widen my circle of people I accept.
Yet that is what Jesus is calling us to, that’s the perfection he seeks from us, one that looks out to the interests of others and learning to love like Jesus. Paul tells us in Romans 12, that if we repay evil with good, it will be like heaping coals on the heads of our enemies.
Maybe the message is that we ought to let God’s justice, be accomplished by God himself and not on our own.
I’m just not sure, but sure am thankful that I have a week to work it out.
What do you think of when you think of this passage?