Wednesday, February 20, 2019

doing onto others Luke 6

Jesus spoke out loud about the dark-places that people don't usually talk about in polite conversation. He had the audacity to tell his followers not only how to interact with people who were easy to like. He told his follower how to deal with their enemies. Jesus said,

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28 (NRSV)
Jesus didn't say his followers were to hurt their enemies he said love them.
Jesus didn't say hate those who hate. He said do good to them.
Jesus didn't say to pray for hell fire and brimstone to come down on those who curse and abuse. He said to bless them and pray for them.

Now hang on—some people will say, Jesus just meant that for people's private relationships. Some people will say that this kind of advice is only about family, friends, or other members of the church. But Jesus didn't include any such limits in his preaching. Jesus didn't mince words because he understands how deep the need for healing goes into the space of every human soul. He didn't mince words because he understood how human connections can be broken and relationships can be shattered.
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. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Luke 6:29-20 NRSV
I have a hard time understanding these words. It's clear that Jesus is naming the complexity of human relationships out loud. But now he was boldly challenging his followers to give up their rights, their possessions even their own bodies. It's one thing to say that Jesus boldly stepped into the mess of human relationships by telling his friends to love their enemies and to do good for those who hate them.
But this one verse keeps troubling me.
If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also... Luke 6:29 NRSV
What if this was act of turning the other cheek was an act of defiance or resistance to power as some commentators have suggested. Its been argued that Jesus was speaking here in terms that his audience would have clearly understood. They knew what it meant to live with the violence of Roman oppression and the humiliation they had endured at the hands of such a powerful empire. To turn the other cheek meant to stand with dignity and look in eyes of the person who struck you.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NRSV
Here's the most basic part of Jesus' ethics. He's telling his followers the standard for how they live and work in the world. Treat others the same as you would be treated. Show honor to the person and the dignity of other. In a few words Jesus is flipping everything over and inviting his followers to start with themselves if they want to live in a different world.

Peace and thanks for reading, John