What the Kingdom of God will do is invite us to take these words of Jesus seriously, invites us to actually try to live them out as people of faith. What the Kingdom of God will do is transform us into the people of love-God’s love, that God has created and called us to be.
February 20, 2022
What Credit is that to You?
Pastor Heather McColl
Luke 6: 27-38
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
What Credit is that to You? Luke 6:27-38
We continue in the Gospel of Luke and he just doesn’t let up! Last week, he made us uncomfortable with his list of Blessing and Woes. And now, well now, he asks the impossible! He wants us to love our enemies. He wants us to do good to those who hate us. Luke even wants us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Reading through the remainder of this passage, I’m not sure I like where all this is going. Doesn’t Luke know how difficult all this will actually be? Doesn’t Luke know that this is not how the world works? Doesn’t Luke know how impossible all this will be to live out in our lives?
In asking the questions, we have our answer. Yes, Luke knows how difficult what he is asking us to do will be. Yes, Luke knows that what he is asking us to do is not how the world works. And yes, Luke even knows how impossible all this will be to live out in our lives. That’s why he includes this part of the passage.
Luke is not asking us to be perfect in this text. In fact, he knows that we will not get it right every time. Rather, what Luke is asking us to do in this passage is to quit offering excuses as to why we can’t live out these things and instead live in ways which reflect our belief, our understanding that God is truly at work in this world bringing healing and wholeness to all of God’s children.
Or in the words of author Madeleine L’Engle, “Too often we play at being God rather than being like God. We tend to forget that playing God, if we took it seriously, involves a love so great that it accepts the cross….” If we took being like God seriously, we would know it involves a love so great that it accepts the cross.”
You see, too often when we come to texts like this one in our Bible, we tend to throw up our hands, say that they ask the impossible, and then ignore that they even exist. We tend to say that what these types of texts ask of us is too difficult for us to live out and instead go about our own business without allowing them to push us or challenge us into becoming the people God created and calls us to be. Too often, we cynically tell Luke that he has lost touch with reality, that he is too naive, that he can’t comprehend how our world really works nowadays.
Let me just say, Luke is not naive nor is he crazy for asking the impossible of us as the ones who proclaim a Risen Savior, as ones who proclaim the foolishness of the cross, as ones who say that light and love will always overcome death and darkness. When Luke shares these seemingly impossible requests, Luke is simply reminding us that the very purpose and mission of the Kingdom of God is to throw us off balance. Yes, even us good church folk…Okay especially us good church folk. You know the ones who think we know the rules of the game, you know the very ones who will choose order and stability every single time, even if it means going against what we know to be the Gospel message, Luke is talking to us, the very ones who will choose the safest way possible if it means we get to stay comfortable and unaffected, Luke is reminding us that the Kingdom of God doesn’t play by our rules. It never has and it never will.
Luke tells us this for the sixth chapter in a row, because we just don’t seem to be getting it. Luke tells us again that what the Kingdom of God will do is level the playing field for all of God’s children. What the Kingdom of God will do is offend us with its scandalous grace each and every time. What the Kingdom of God will do is invite us to take these words of Jesus seriously, invites us to actually try to live them out as people of faith. What the Kingdom of God will do is transform us into the people of love-God’s love, that God has created and called us to be.
Or let me say it this way…. This past week, a preacher who I greatly admired shared that in her church, she decided that instead of breaking Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain into individual pieces to be read on consecutive Sundays during the month of February, that she would instead read it as a whole for her sermon. She is a lot braver than I am. Because she didn’t edit it or leave any of the uncomfortable pieces out. She read it all… Jesus’ very own words, read aloud as her sermon.
This preacher knew what she was risking when she read certain pieces. After all, she serves a prestigious church. A church that takes lots of resources to operate. She also knew that she would make people mad by not going with a safer Scripture, by not going with a Scripture that allows people to leave the church service feeling good about themselves and their place in the world.
This preacher knew what she was risking when she stepped into that pulpit and read Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain-complete, as a whole, with nothing left out.
And sure enough, after the worship services were over that day, several people came up to her and shared that they really didn’t like or agree with some of her sermon that morning. Now again, let me remind us. She read Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, not her words, She shared Jesus’ actual words written in the Gospel of Luke.
And here is what I love. She responded to these people as pastorally as she could and said, “I’m sure that when Jesus gave his sermon, several people also told him that they didn’t like or agree with some of what he said that day. Because Jesus’ very words flew in the face of the Middle Eastern culture to which they were accustomed. Jesus’ very words would not allow his disciples nor would it allow the crowd gathered around him to go about business as usual in their broken and hurting world. So I can only surmise that Jesus looked at these disciples, looked at the people who didn’t like what he was saying, Jesus looked them in the eye as he certainly would us and say, “Yes, that’s the point”.
May we always remember and celebrate the life turning, the life giving, the life transforming power of the Kingdom of God.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, February 20, 2022 – What Credit is that to You? Luke 6: 27-38.
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