Jesus’ Most Radical Message
Right here with Jesus is the first-ever recorded example of loving our enemies, not as a trick, and not as a way to get a reward from God, but because it’s the most radically reconciling way to live. If we really want to change the world, loving our enemies is the only way to do it. Anything less radical will not be enough. Jesus has just finished describing the cycle of violence that gets perpetuated when we take an eye for an eye, urging us to instead turn the other cheek and go the extra mile.
Loving our enemies is shocking. It is counter-cultural. It is complete, mature, and as perfect as the love of God. It will stand out in a society powered by a system that runs at cross-purposes to the Gospel. The hard truth about loving our enemies is that sometimes it’s going to cost us. Your enemies may beat you; they may force you into backbreaking labor; they may humiliate you; they may take the very shirt off your back. And in that moment the very power of God alive in you will empower you to absorb it without flinging it back at them. Far from being a weak activity, this is the strongest thing a human being can do. It takes far more courage, integrity, steadfastness, and faith, to see injustice for what it is and to let your very body be the site of revealing its evil. And when we choose to do that, we will be in very good company. Because that was the path chosen by Jesus himself.
God who sees no enemies, empower us to live in love, creatively resisting the forces designed for physical and spiritual oppression. Make us into everyday radicals and set us free. Amen.
Rev. Beth Gedert is the pastor of Zion United Church of Christ, an Open and Affirming church seeking to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God in Delaware, Ohio.
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