Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
At a time when we are tempted to second guess everything we do or say, it’s important to consider what Jesus teaches about the importance of giving back to God as he has so richly poured into us. We may be inspired to step up and step into our church outreach and feel a little uneasy about how it will be received. Especially during this time of division, when it feels like everything we do and say is ripe for the picking by those who harshly and sometimes hurtfully judge.
We are called to be brave and strive to “be perfect as God is perfect”. Where do we begin?
I encourage you to read Luke 6:27-36. This passage offers us, just like it did in Jesus’ day, contemplation of his radical Christian reciprocity; the dynamics of giving and receiving in relationships.
Jesus raises the issues of authentic discipleship, the integration of Christian attitude and action, the tension between the end times hope and present suffering and mission. Key for us is, “Love your enemies”. Jesus elaborates on what this looks like through the rest of that passage. Jesus challenges the hearer to re-imagine reality calling on us to choose God’s reciprocity over the world’s by employing divine mercy as the foundational principle for exchanges between God, Christian disciples, and others. In other words, when we are exchanging anything with others, we need to be mindful to do so with divine mercy. The activity becomes a team effort with God and acting as Jesus’ representative in that moment.
Verse 31 in that passage is what we call The Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If you would like others to treat you with kindness, dignity, and respect, that is how you should treat others. Some misinterpret that passage to say, “do to others as they have done to you first.” Meaning to mirror the other’s example back onto them rather than mirroring Jesus onto them. Our kindest response comes from a heart so full of love for all that God has done for us that we have overflow extending to others. “Be merciful,” to others, “just as your Father is merciful” to you. There is no greater form of kindness.
William Loyd Allen wrote, “Mission is bound up in God’s reciprocity. The enemy who received mercy is to the disciple (us) as the disciple is to Christ, an undeserving inferior granted mercy but not required to reciprocate. By the disciples’ love gift, the enemy is confronted with the potential for a new relationship.” My prayer is that Luke 6 may rule our hearts and find us soon with fewer enemies and a greater volume of blessed friends.
With hands to the plow,