I’ve made it to the New Testament in my “through the Bible in a year” quest, and I tell you what, if some of the things Jesus said don’t shake you up a bit, you’re not paying attention.
This morning, I read through Luke’s account of the Beatitudes in Luke 6:20-45. Reading them, I was immediately struck by the contrast to how Jesus’ saying in this chapter go against much of what is taught and believed in Christian circles, especially in the West. Especially in America.
Take this one for instance: “Give to everyone who asks of you. And to him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.” (Luke 6: 30) Now, think how you felt the last time a panhandler asked you for change. I’ll go on and answer that for you with my last encounter, as I looked away, hoping they wouldn’t see me: “they’ll just use it for drugs.” But you know what? I don’t see a caveat in Jesus’ words. There isn’t a Divine footnote explaining that He meant in only certain circumstances (which seems to be what a lot people think He meant).
It gets tougher. Jesus goes on to say “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (v. 32) and “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” (v. 33) and “if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you?” (v. 34). He ends all three of those statements with “for even sinners do the same.”
Is it just me, or are you convicted by the Lord’s words here? Jesus goes on to say:
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”
You loving Al Queda right now? You loving your boss? You loving the neighbor you can’t get along with? What about the politician that you are so at odds with? You loving them?
Are you giving freely, or are you keeping tabs? Are you choosing your spots, only seeking those “worthy” to be given to? Or are you giving extravagantly, as Your Father gave to you? He’s the benchmark for us, you know? Jesus said it in verse 36: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
You start taking Jesus words seriously, and tell me you don’t get a tad uncomfortable. And then think back to how the religious elite of His day reacted to His words. Which camp would you have been in?