March 12: I end up having to love someone I hate

Posted on : Mar 9th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz Weber tells a wonderful story about a seminarian who at one of Nadia’s speaking engagements asked, “Pastor Nadia, what are your ways, your spiritual practices for getting closer to God?”

“Why would I want to get close to God?” Nadia replied. “Whenever Jesus gets close to me I end up having to love someone I hate, give away more of my money, or forgive someone I don’t want to forgive.” I would add a fourth: “or see things differently.”

There are times in my faith journey when I think it would just be so much easier to be on the other side of a justice issue for a change. Wouldn’t it be nice to not give a damn about the poor or the oppressed? Wouldn’t it be nice to be part of the silent majority? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk about God with warm, fuzzy platitudes? But then reality sets in. It wouldn’t really be nice. It would be a whole lot easier, but it wouldn’t be nice. And it wouldn’t be honest and it wouldn’t be fair or just. And I wouldn’t be faithful to the God who I know and love who has come to us in the person of Jesus to show us and teach us about life and faith.

Pastor Nadia is right. The closer we get to Jesus, the more Jesus requires of us.

When Jesus came out of the wilderness experience of his life, he was well aware of what his relationship with God demanded of him. He started out with the basic premise that you can’t believe in a God of Love, unless you believe God is loving. And we can’t profess faith in a God of love, if we’re filled with hate. In fact, as Jesus’ own life story unfolded, he encountered an awful lot of people who hated him. Some of them hated him so much, they wanted to kill him. And yet, in the midst of that hate, Jesus taught that we have to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” And then Jesus went on to show us what that means.

Many think these teachings of Jesus are idealistic or an invitation to further abuse. They are not. To “turn the other cheek” had a radically different meaning in the world in which Jesus lived compared with our understanding of that metaphor today. Likewise, loving those who hate you was not an invitation to further abuse, but rather an act of greater strength. Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were two of the greatest disciples of this teaching of Jesus. So, maybe getting closer to Jesus isn’t as bad as some think. More on Sunday!

Blessings to you this Lenten Season and may we come out of the wilderness stronger and more loving,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

 Matthew 5: 38-48

Jesus teaches about loving our enemies

“You’ve heard the commandment, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, offer no resistance whatsoever when you are confronted with violence. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer the other. If anyone wants to sue you for your shirt, hand over your coat as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go two miles. Give to those who beg from you. And don’t turn your back on those who want to borrow from you.

“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor but hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are children of God. For God makes the sun rise on bad and good alike; God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust.

If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? Don’t tax collectors do as much? And if you greet only your sisters and brothers, what is so praiseworthy about that? Don’t Gentiles do as much? Therefore be perfect, as your Loving God in heaven is perfect.”

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