DayBreaks for 6/24/16 – You Must be Kidding
From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:
Jesus said many things during his Incarnation that were provocative and considered scandalous by those who were nearby. He told stories about the hated Samaritans in which they were the heroes and the Jews were the bad guys. He forgave sins – a prerogative reserved only for God Himself. He healed on the day of rest – showing us that God’s compassion doesn’t take days off – and created a scandal. His teaching about marriage and divorce, hate, lust – all stirred anger, bitterness and resentment.
But perhaps no words of Jesus were more scandalous, nor more hard for us to keep, than these words from Luke 6:35-36 (NLT): Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
As Michael Card put it The Lost Language of Lament: “This is one of Jesus’ most unbelievable and scandalous statements about His Father. Nothing like it had ever been spoken before. The Father is merciful to the ungrateful and the wicked, Jesus says. With these words He opens a door to an understanding of God which He would perfectly demonstrate on the cross. Jesus would die for the ungrateful and the wicked so the Father could show them mercy.”
It seems to us that being kind to our enemies should be enough. Jesus says, “No. You must LOVE them.” One of the greatest qualities about love is that it is forgiving, compassionate, dare we say, merciful? There have been many times when I wondered why it was that God wanted me to be kind to someone who had hurt me, to love them. It always seemed as if it did no good. Sure, I’d cling to the verse about doing good towards them and in doing so, I’d be heaping piles of burning coals on their head (Romans 12:20)! (Ah, now that’s the kind of motivation that usually moves us – causing pain to someone who has hurt us!!!!) But other than that, why, Lord? Why should I love and do good to them other than to cause them guilt, shame and hopefully, remorse? I think Michael may be on to something: it’s because when we love them and do good to them that we are most easily recognizable as children of the Most High. And as always, God doesn’t ever ask us to do something that He hasn’t already done – God demonstrated His own love and compassion on the cross through the death of Christ for one reason: so the Father could show them mercy.
God wants us to love our enemies so that God is modeled to them and so that He can show mercy to them. As always, it’s not about us and what we can or can’t do, it’s about God and what He wants to do through us.
PRAYER: God, we are not very noble creatures and we are not driven by very noble motives. The words and commands of Jesus sometimes are shocking to us and we can’t understand how you could ask such things of us. Help us to realize that it is your heart of love and mercy that brought us to repentance and which longs for all to come to salvation. Help us to love our enemies so that You can show them Your mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.