This Sunday at our guest service I am going to speak on Jesus’ teaching that has the most potential to change your life and to change the world. Quite simply Jesus is going to introduce a way of living that can stop the cycle of revenge, bitterness and hatred in the world today!
In the Old Testament and in many codes of law we find the idea of just retribution – that is, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. In itself this law has a way of civilising the society we live in. Rather than you hurt my feelings, I wipe out your village… we are told to seek a proportional justice in the light of wrongdoing.
Jesus introduces something different and when put into practice it changes the world.
Matthew 5:38-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
This is grace. It has the power to stop the cycle of wrongdoing. What Jesus is saying is don’t surrender the initiative but take on evil with good. In doing so you confound your enemy, transform the situation and let the higher values of love and grace control the situation. It is brilliant stuff. And of course it is the life of Jesus himself who although having the power to destroy his enemies, submits to their wrong, offering forgiveness and ultimately defeats evil.
More on Sunday… 3 levels of human life… evil for good… evil for evil and good for good… or good for evil. Only one way changes the world!