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03 October – Raising the Bar

Luke 6:27  “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31  Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34  If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

 

Jesus is unapologetic in insisting that his followers were expected to show more love, more compassion, and more mercy than anyone else. The central thrust to this is that his followers were to reflect the quality of God:  “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  Jesus invites his followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

Clearly the teachings of Jesus are easier to read in the Bible than they are to practice in our lives.  A case in point is the American desire to bomb foreign countries: We watch how a Jesus-following President of the United States of America – and a God-trusting USA – flat-out ignores Jesus’ injunctions to find an alternative to violence.  It is disturbing how easily we Christians choose violence as the answer to the problems of our world. The greatest challenge of being a Jesus-follower is to have the will and stamina to relentlessly pursue non-violent ways of securing peace and justice in our world.  Jesus asks us to go further than anyone else – to raise the bar on our practice of love and mercy.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within. 

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest. 

Words: Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr., 1875. 

Ordinary 23 / Pentecost +16

45 Forgiveness

The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 276.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day
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“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)