Wrapping up Matthew 5 today – it’s taken longer than I thought, but I’m getting back on track here with doing these on the blog. I wanted to also share with you 2 sites that I am excited about. The first is eBible, I stumbled upon this and I really like the web 2.0ness of it as an online Bible study tool, way better than Biblegateway or some of the others. Also, coming soon from Lifechurch.tv is YouVersion 2.o, what should prove to be a very web 2.0 community based online Bible study site.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have heard that it was said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœLove your neighbor and hate your enemy.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
And from Nelson’s Commentary on this portion of Scripture:
The Christian may live above the demands of the Law and the temptations of the world because he has an inner depth of character which is the product of the divine nature within him.
I’ve always struggled with these portions of Scripture, and I am not really sure why…? It’s pretty plain and simple. Earlier Jesus says to always give to those who want to borrow, and to turn the other cheek, and to give someone your coat if they want to sue you and take your “tunic“. Always giving, always forgiving, beyond what people deserve. It’s what God did for us, does He expect us to do any less? We are to be “perfect”.
But we’re not.
Here’s the issue that’s the biggest I struggle with. I want to strive to be like this in my life (and not just with my “enemies”). But I find that a lot of Christian leadership, behind closed doors and in public talk about getting fair treatment, especially when dealing with “the world”. When churches build, they expect perfection at a discounted price. When they purchase a product, they haggle to the lowest possible price and then complain about shoddy service. They are always renegotiating prices, looking for the next lowest price, completely negating the relationship that could be built between the church and the company – or even worse, taking advantage of the relationship to squeeze an even better deal out of them. The explanation I hear on this issue is that the church has to show “good stewardship” with “God’s money”.
When someone wrongs someone in the church, especially a minister, the church gets all up in arms about justice and being held “accountable”. I’ve heard so many pastors teach from the pulpit that “Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but you’ve only got two cheeks”, and they fail to mention that Jesus also said to forgive someone “seventy times seven”, which is an analogy for unending forgiveness.
To me it’s no wonder that people don’t want to have anything to do with the church. We’ve defaulted on one of Jesus’ most basic teachings – love your enemies, love those who persecute you, love those who sue you, love those who take advantage of you – in fact don’t just love them, give them what they want and more because that is what God has done.
Maybe I am leaning too far on one side right now – what do you think?