Full disclosure: I have never done this, offered myself to an enemy for a second go-round. The very idea of turning the other cheek is totally appalling. When Jesus says offer no resistance to one who is evil, I say: Lord, you’ve got to be kidding. Of course I’m going to resist evil. I’m going to run from the near occasion of the bad guys the moment I see them on the horizon. Jesus wants me to surrender my coat along with my shirt, and work twice as long for someone who’s already taking advantage of me. The capstone of the whole teaching is the most ludicrous: love your enemy. Is Jesus pulling our leg? It’s obvious from reading the gospels that Jesus has a sense of humour. But he doesn’t simply clown around. Jesus says all of these preposterous things to bring us along to the bottom line on this way of thinking: Be perfect, as God is perfect. Because God turns the other cheek, doesn’t resist us when we’re evil, gives and gives, and loves us who are enemies to the divine will. Maybe we won’t do these things. Thank heaven God will
The Scripture (Matthew 5: 43-44a) Love for Enemies
Jesus said, ‘You know that the law said, ‘charity begins at home; love your neighbour’, and it has always been accepted that ‘hate our enemies’ follows from that. Well, it doesn’t, so I am telling you to lift your standards. I want you to love your enemies. I want you to pray for the welfare of those who try to make life a misery’.
Clean up a mess you didn’t make. Turn out a light somebody else left on. Ask a blessing on someone you don’t like. Put up with someone who won’t stop talking. Practice holiness. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out your true selves, your God-created selves.
Loving God, help us to forgive the unforgiving, to love our enemies and to deepen our friendship with you and one another.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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