18 Luke 6.27-36
A reporter, interviewing an old man on his 100th birthday, asked, "What are
you most proud of?"
"Well," said the old man, pondering the question, "I don't have an enemy in the world."
"That's wonderful!" said the reporter.
"Yep," he said, "I've outlived every last one of them”
v Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have enemies
Ø We all have people that we harbor grudges toward
Ø We all have people who dislike us
Ø We all have people who we dislike
v The text before us today tackles this very subject…
Ø How to deal with your your enemies
v I’d like you to do something that is rather unorthodox
Ø Think of someone you do not like
§ Someone who has
· Mistreated you
· Spoken ill of you
· Ostracized you
v Think of that person and apply what Jesus teaches here to that person
Ø I know, we all would like to think that we do not harbor grudges
§ The Bible tells us not to
· But let’s face it, we do!
v And Jesus knows that too!
Ø So he has given us guidelines for dealing with our enemies
§ Guidelines that I describe as “Tough Love”
· A type of love that is tough to fulfill
¨ And he begins by giving us 4 Laws to help us get started
READ v. 27-28
v First Law of Love…
v Love your enemies ~ The Law of our Attitude
Ø Attitude of Love
§ How we are to approach our enemies
There are many dimensions that a pilot has to concern himself with when landing a plane. But the most important is Attitude. “Attitude" describes the plane’s relative relationship with the horizon. In other words, whether the nose of the plane is up or down. If their attitude isn’t aligned properly, the plane will make contact with the ground at the wrong angle and it will cause them to crash. Pilots are always checking their attitude again and again
Ø What Jesus is telling us here is to constantly check our attitude
§ Making sure our approach to people is always one of Love?
Ø When Jesus here tells us to Love our enemies
§ He is in essence saying that we should approach everyone…
· Even our enemies…
¨ In Love
§ Phil 2:5
· Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
Second Law of tough Love…
v Do good to those who hate you ~ The Law of our Actions
Ø RQ: How do we show this attitude of love toward our enemies?
§ Through our actions
· Love is displayed by coupling our internal attitude with external actions
Ø Jesus is always demanding that those two line up in our lives
§ Romans 10:9 states
· Trust in your heart, confess with your mouth
¨ Internal and external
§ James 2:17
· Faith if it is not accompanied by works is dead
¨ Internal and external
Ø William Secker
§ To do evil for good is human corruption, to do good for good is civil retribution, to the good for evil is Christian perfection
· Perfection comes when the internal and external are lined up
Third Law of tough Love…
Ø Bless those who curse you ~ The Law of our Words
§ We are not to be a “tit for tat” people
There's an old story of a Christian who, while meditating in the countryside, noticed a scorpion struggling to get out of the swirling water of a rapid brook. Its efforts to climb onto a rock were futile, for the water was too strong. The Christian , taking pity on the creature, tried to help it, but the scorpion kept striking back at him.
A friend, passing by, said to the Christian, "Don't you realize that it is the nature of a scorpion to attack and sting?"
"Yes," said the Christian, "but it is my nature to save and rescue. Why should I change my nature just because the scorpion doesn't change his?"
§ The world would say…
· Curse those who curse you
Ø But not so with us!
§ We have a new nature within us that gives us the ability to bless when we are cursed
· 2 Cor 5:16-17
¨ So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Ø Our nature now is not a “tit for tat”
§ But a “bless for curse”
Last Law of tough Love…
Ø Pray for those who mistreat you ~ The Law of Intercession
§ We are to be a people who not only…
· Approach our enemies in love
· Act toward our enemies in love
· Speak to our enemies in Love
¨ But also…
· Pray for our enemies
Roy is a prison inmate who, becoming a Christian, had hard lessons to unlearn. All his life he had been taught to hate his enemies, particularly within prison walls. One of his most vexing enemies was Rodney, who stole his radio and headphones one day while Roy was playing volleyball in the prison yard.
It was an expensive radio, a gift from his mother. The earphones had been a Christmas present from his sister. Roy was angry and wanted revenge, but as he prayed about it, it seemed to him that God was testing him.
Day after day, Roy wanted to respond violently, to knock the wisecracking grin off Rodney's face, but Luke 6:28 kept coming to mind: Paul's instruction to pray for your enemies. After a while Roy began praying for him. Slowly, very slowly, as Roy continued to pray, he began to look at Rodney through God's eyes and have compassion on him. He began trusting God to accomplish something in Rodney's life.
By and by, Roy's hatred for Rodney began fading, and he found himself helping his enemy and telling him about Jesus. Then one day, Roy saw Rodney kneeling down next to his bunk reading his Bible, and he knew that good had overcome evil!
Ø You see…
§ He calls us to prayer not so much for the other as for us
· Yes, you enemy may have a change of heart
¨ But that is not the guarantee
Ø The guarantee is that your heart will be changed!
Ø That is all we really have control over anyway
§ Blackboard illustration
· You can only erase your side!
v What Jesus is doing is turning the world’s values upside down
Ø We are not to be like the world
§ Look at how the world acts
v The world’s love is easy, isn’t it?
Ø The world says…
§ Love those who love you
· In other words…
¨ Measure your love by the measure given you
Ø Give as much as you get
Ø The world says…
§ Do good to those who do good to you
· In other words…
¨ Be reactionary not proactive in your love
Ø Wait and see if they are nice to you
§ And then be nice to them
· Don’t act…react
Ø The world says…
§ Only lend to those who you know can repay
· In other words…
¨ Approach people with a banking mentality
Ø Size them up, judge them
Ø The world’s golden rule is…
§ Do to others as they have done to you
· Don’t go beyond how people have treated you
¨ IT IS EASY!
Ø It is simple, it is safe, it is selfish
You can't put a round world on a flat map. Mercator's projection distorts the polar regions in order to get more accuracy near the equator. Other projections have other distortions; all are faulty in some manner. Most important in modem warfare is the azimuthal projection that shows the shortest lines between two points. For example, it shows the shortest way from New York to China as directly over the North Pole. On all such maps the distortion increases geometrically away from the center until the geographical shapes near the edge of the map become almost unrecognizable.
When we react to people by the worlds principles, we are centered on ourselves. What Christ is saying is: that is a distorted worldview. Even though it feels natural to respond to our enemies in like, it is a distortion of how we should act.
Only when the love of Christ moves us from centering on ourselves to centering on Christ can the distortion be corrected.
v That is what v. 36 is telling us!
Ø We are not to imitate the World…
§ But imitate Christ!
v Look at V. 35-36
Ø Over and over again we are told to imitate Christ
§ Matt 5:48 ~ Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect
§ 1 Cor 4:16 ~ Paul ~ Imitate me (as I imitate Christ)
§ Eph 5:1
· Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
How are we to imitate the Lord?
v 3 Examples
Ø 29a ~ If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also
§ History of striking the cheek = synagogue excommunication
§ We are to weather Extreme Rejection because of Love
· E.g. ~ Paul’s ministry to the Jews
¨ In Acts Jews continually rejected Paul
Ø Excluded him for synagogue worship
Ø Tried to kill him
Ø Beat him ~ 2 Cor 11:24
§ 5x 40 lashed minus one
§ 3x beaten with rods
· Yet he wrote in Romans 10:1
¨ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved
v 29b ~ If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic
Ø We are to take Extreme Risks with our Love
§ Stick our neck out
§ Go out on a limb
§ Wear your heart out on your sleeve
¨ We are to go through life with the same posture as Christ on the Cross
Ø Open, exposed, vulnerable
v 30 ~ Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back
Ø We are to be marked by Extreme Generosity with our Love
§ We should always be free and loose with our love and acceptance
¨ 60’ song
Ø “They will know you are Christians by your love”
v This is a tough teaching!
v Q: Are we to take this literally? Is Jesus really serious about loving your enemies?
v Aren’t there certain circumstances, situations…certain realities, etc?
v Couldn’t this be classified as hyperbole to make a point?
§ You can always tell if someone is serious if he lives what he says
Ø Was Jesus willing to weather extreme Rejection?
§ Rejected by the Pharisees
· The very people who should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah!
§ Rejected by World
· READ Matthew 27:39-44
§ Rejected by Disciples
· Judas Iscariot
· Peter 3x
· The Apostles deserted him
§ Rejected by the Father
· My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Ø Was Jesus willing to take Extreme Risks?
§ Listen to the risk that Jesus took
· Romans 5:8
¨ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Ø This defines how we should be loving our enemies!
§ While we were still his enemies
· Christ gave his life to offer salvation to those who vehemently oppose him to the dying day
· Christ gave his life to offer salvation to those who despise him
· Christ gave his life to offer salvation to those who actively run away from him
Ø While we were yet sinners, He died for us!!!
Ø Was Jesus marked by Extreme Generosity?
A very wealthy man who and his devoted son, shared a passion for art collecting. They traveled around the world together, adding only the finest paintings to their collection. Included among them were works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet. The old man was a widower, but his son filled up the void in his life, and this was their common bond.
But war erupted, and the young man enlisted and was sent overseas. Day after day, the old father prayed, held his breath, and waited for news. One autumn day near Thanksgiving the dreaded telegram came, bordered in black. The young man had died bravely in combat, trying to evacuate those caught under fIre.
Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming holidays with anguish and sorrow. On Christmas morning, a knock sounded at the door. The father opened it to find a soldier there, carrying a small package. As they talked, the soldier said, "Your son and I became very close, and he told me all about your joint art collection. I myself am an artist, and I wanted to give you this."
The man took this package in his feeble hands, unwrapped it, and there was a portrait of his son in striking detail. It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was the most precious work of art the man had ever seen. As he gazed at it, he wept. And as the young soldier left, the lonely father pushed aside millions of dollars worth of art and hung the portrait of his son in the prized spot over the fireplace.
As the months passed, the old man received letter after letter, telling him of his son's bravery and selflessness, and of how many lives he had saved and how many more he had touched. With each passing day the portrait over the fireplace became more precious, and he told his friends that it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
The following Spring, the old man grew ill and passed away. The art world was full of anticipation, wanting to get its hands on this man's fabulous collection. A day was set to auction it all off, and according to the old man's instruction the first painting was one that was not on any museum's list…the painting of the man's son. When the auctioneer asked for an opening bid, the room was silent.
"Who will open the bidding at $100?” he asked. The moments stretched on awkwardly, and finally someone in the back of the room said, "Let’s go on to the next piece:'
"No," replied the auctioneer. "We have to sell this one first:'
Finally a neighbor of the man spoke. "Will you take fifty dollars for the painting? That's all I have, but I knew the boy and I liked him, so I'd like to have it."
"Fifty dollars, we have fifty dollars," shouted the auctioneer. "Will anyone go higher?" No one did. "Going once, going twice, gone." And the gavel fell.
Everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief, thankful that now they could proceed with the "real" auction and get their hands on the masterpieces.
But imagine their shock when the auctioneer suddenly declared that the proceedings were over. A loud clamor arose. Stunned disbelief "What do you mean it's over?" the people shouted. "What about all the masterpieces?"
The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will, whoever takes the son gets it all:'
v Mark 10:45
Ø For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
§ Jesus Christ gave the most extremely generous thing he had
· His life
¨ And according the Scripture
Ø Whoever accepts the son, gets it all!
v The key to this entire passage is found in the last verse
Ø V. 36 ~ Be merciful, just as you Father is merciful
§ In other words…
· Imitate God
§ Luke 6:45 ~ Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks
§ Prov 16:24
v Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bone
v Radio illustration:
Ø 2.8 MM people praying daily for President Bush
§ We are very proud of this, aren’t we?
· That’s easy, isn’t it
¨ He is a Christian
¨ Stands for what is morally right
§ Now let’s fast forward 4 years
· We elect a man who
¨ Is for killing babies
¨ Actively supports the homosexual lifestyle
§ It all of the sudden is not as easy to pray blessing on them, is it?
Ø It is so easy to imitate the world and be centered on self
§ We fall right into it naturally
· But we are called out of the world!
¨ John 15:19
Ø As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world
· Christ took on himself the task of…
¨ Being born
¨ Being human
¨ Living a perfect, sinless life
¨ Completing the work of redemption
¨ At the cost of his own life
¨ All for people who hate him, disparage him, mock him, take his name in vain,
Before the Berlin wall came down, Owe Holmer tried to enroll his children eight times at the university in East Berlin, but the Ministry of Education in East Germany said no. The Ministry of Education doesn't usually give reasons for its rejection of applications for enrollment. But in this case the reason wasn't hard to guess.
Owe Holmer, the father of the eight applicants, is a Lutheran pastor at Lobetal, a suburb of East Berlin. For 26 years the Ministry of Education was headed by Margot Honecker, wife of East Germany's premier, Erich Honecker. . . . Then when the Berlin wall cracked. . . Honecker and his wife were unceremoniously dismissed from office and was under indictment for criminal activities during his tenure as premier.
At the end of January the Honeckers were evicted from their luxurious palace. The Honeckers suddenly found themselves friendless, without resources, and with no place to go. None of their former “friends” showed them any of the humanitarianism communists boast about. No one wanted to identify with the Honeckers.
Enter Owe Holmer. Remembering the words of Jesus, "Do good to those who hate you," Holmer extended an invitation to the Honeckers to stay with his family in the parsonage.