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Posts Tagged ‘love your enemies’


Luke 6:45: Fullness of Heart

RC DeWinter: The Tree of Hearts

Saturday, May 12, 2018

We have established a dwelling place where we rest in the Spirit only to find that there are times when we must flee this sanctuary. Some of us are called to remain forever outside of that refuge, and others are called to return transformed and transforming. No matter our circumstances, we might do as the words from Luke ask us.

A good person out of the store of goodness in the heart produces good; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. (NAB)

In this image of God’s kingdom as a tree bearing fruit, there is no doubt that storing up goodness is the heart of our daily mission; but today we pause to reflect on what we might do when we are weighted with a burden too heavy to carry. How are we to manage when we are overwhelmed with doubt or fear? Jesus tells us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. (John 14:1) Today we rest in these words.

A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (GNT)

The looming image of God measuring out the good from the bad is too terrible for us to consider for those who find themselves barely able to journey from morning to evening without losing heart. How are we to manage when our hearts are too empty to fill? Jesus reminds us: Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4) Today we rely on these words.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. (NRSV)

The dual image of an either/or world asks us to make too simple a choice when we know that few of us are all good or all bad, but rather a blend of both worlds. How are we to manage a dualistic world that offers only black-or-white decisions when we know that the real world we live in is mostly gray? Jesus asks us: Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast. (Matthew 22:9) Today we have hope in these words.

The good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart. (CJB)

The image of an intense struggle between goodness and evil rises before us as we consider this verse, giving us a deceiving reality of false choices. How are we to behave when it appears that everything and everyone align in a tribal dance of self versus other? Jesus says to us:  Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (Luke 6:35) Today we find a challenge in these words.

You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. (MSG)

If the image of a worm-infested life terrifies us so that we are unable to accept our reality, we have taken this image too far. When life itself frightens us, we must find a way to pray for those who harm us, and ask that Christ show us the way to still our troubled minds and dissolve the anger, fear, hatred, and fog . . . and to fill our troubled hearts with forgiveness, patience, courage and clarity. In time, we discover that despite, or perhaps because of all we have suffered, we have a certain fullness of the heart.


When we compare translations of these verses, we open our hearts so that Christ might fill them with his generous love. 

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-tree-of-hearts-rc-dewinter.html and http://www.boiseccc.org/sermons/chouer-love-your-enemies-2/

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Proverbs 25: Further Sayings

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gustave Doré: King Solomon Writing Proverbs

We continue our journey through Proverbs and we find more nuggets of gold.

God delights in concealing things;
    scientists delight in discovering things.

Perhaps our world today needs to appreciate the mystery of Christ more than we value our own powers to understand or our desire to control.

Remove impurities from the silver
    and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice;
Remove the wicked from leadership
    and authority will be credible and God-honoring.

Perhaps our world today needs to appreciate authenticity and honesty more than we value trickery and plotting.

Trusting a double-crosser when you’re in trouble
    is like biting down on an abscessed tooth.

Perhaps our societies today need to trust fidelity and hope more than we value wealth and fame.

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch;
    if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink.
Your generosity will surprise him with goodness,
    and God will look after you.

Perhaps our societies today need to trust the words of Christ to love out enemies more than we value revenge and power.

A north wind brings stormy weather,
    and a gossipy tongue stormy looks.

Perhaps we need to tend to the little moments in our lives rather than look for momentous ones.

Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary
    is a letter from a long-lost friend.

Perhaps we need to tend to those close to us rather than look for new friends when our old friends bring us the truth.

Perhaps we might learn a bit of wisdom from these further sayings.

When we explore other translations of these verses from THE MESSAGE, we open ourselves to more of God’s wisdom.

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Acts 10:28-47: Hearing the Good News

Peter and Cornelius

Thursday, May 4, 2017

God is the creator of both space and time. God is in charge. God creates humans in God’s image. God loves all of creation. God creates us in, for and through love. God loves us very much. This is good news indeed.

Today we read about Peter’s meeting with Cornelius, a Roman centurion living in Caesarea, Palestine. Today we focus not on the fact that this well-positioned, powerful man turns away from paganism to live in Christ; rather, we reflect on God’s desire to break down walls between nations and philosophies. Today we watch Peter put aside his Jewish restrictions and prejudices in order to meet, speak with, and even seek union with a man who represents repression to the Jewish nation. And finally, we focus on God’s desire for union and community with each of us . . . with all of us . . . and not an elite few.

We meditate on Peter’s words in verse 28: God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.

Can we imagine a world in which our enemies become our close associates?

We spend time with Cornelius’ account of hearing God’s words in verse 31: Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 

Can we imagine a world in which we heed God’s message of healing and love?

We remember Peter’s understanding of God’s love in verses 34-35: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 

Can we imagine a world in which we are both recipients and vehicles of God’s miracles?

Like Peter and Cornelius, once we hear God’s words and understand their meaning, we also come to know these truths: We are witnesses to the loving action of God in our lives, we are called to minister to all of God’s people, and we are the vessels of God’s Holy Spirit in the world.

This is marvelous news indeed. These are wonderful truths undeniably. This is Good New we want to both receive and share.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to share the Good News that the Holy Spirit is with us. 

Tomorrow, Peter’s fifth sermon following Pentecost.

 

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Acts 3:12-26: Acting in Ignorance

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Peter Addressed the Crowd

And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 

Peter teaches us an important lesson today, a lesson he learned from Christ himself. In a non-threatening overture, he creates a safe space for understanding. In a loving gesture, he delivers a message of forgiveness and acceptance. With an open embrace, he both challenges and welcomes those who have been his enemies.

Peter addresses the crowds at the Temple, wading into the controversy that overshadowed the lives of this fledgling Christ-following community. How might we open our arms to those who oppose us?

Peter allows the Spirit to speak through him, putting aside his own anxiety and fear, delivering a much-needed message to a world awaiting hope. How might we step into our role as Christ-followers to speak the words we know we must say?

Peter rests in his tradition yet trusts the newness of his understanding of Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. How might we internalize the message of the Gospel story when we move into a world that looks for promise and assurance?

Today we reflect on Peter’s words to the crowds at the Temple and we wonder how we might avoid acting out of ignorance. And we determine to act out of, and through, and for Christ’s peace and love.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow Peter’s words to open our hearts and minds. 

Tomorrow, Peter’s third sermon following Pentecost.

 

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Romans 12:2-16: Into the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.

Today Paul gives us specific guidelines for how to live the Beatitudes, what we are to do with our concerns, how we are to handle our negative emotions, and where we might take our worries and fears. Our God-given identity calls us to reflect Christ in the world; but how are we to do this? Paul reminds us of God’s gracious gift of faith . . . and how we might carry it into a world that will likely be surprised by this message.

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 

Paul reminds us that humility and love serve us much more than revenge.

Love must be completely sincere. Hold on to what is good.

God turns all harm to goodness. We have proof of this and we can rely on this.

Love one another warmly, and be eager to show respect for one another.

Paul addresses Christians, but we might extend this openness and respect to all.

Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Fidelity and responsibility. Prudence and authenticity. These are our hallmarks of behavior.

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Hope and patience. Prayer and petition. These are foundations on which we stand.

Share your belongings with your needy fellows, and open your homes to strangers.

Community versus individuality. The common good versus the singular gain. These are values we must weigh.

Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.

This is perhaps the most difficult of all Jesus’ messages. Loving those who harm us is a challenge we want to ignore; but with Christ as our guide and refuge, we cannot lose.

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Our brother Jesus celebrates and mourns. We are invited to do the same.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

We are reminded that human wisdom cannot reach the heights of God’s wisdom. We remember that God does not abandon or betray us. We have before us a clear guideline for living as Jesus does, for living as we all might, for living as a builder in God’s kingdom. Today we have a striking description of our own God-given identity. Let us go into the world as if we believe.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions of these words, we discover the blessings and gifts of God.

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part II

Monday, February 20, 2017love_your_enemies_by_kevron2001-d9h02h0

Today we continue to explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount as we struggle to love our enemies.

Jesus asks us to live in a new way that we revolutionize our relationships. But are we up to this challenge?

You’re familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy”. I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

Here is another impossible perspective, we tell ourselves. No one would risk so much as to be nice to their enemies. What in the world is Jesus asking? There is no way, we say quietly to friends. I will never see how this can make sense. This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

God says: I know the enormity of the challenge I present to you; and I know your depths, your strengths, and the heights to which you might soar. I created you and know you better that you know yourself. The energies of prayer I ask you send to me are precisely that. When you ask me to intercede for someone who has done you harm, those prayers fly to me more quickly than any other petition. I love to see you emulate me in forgiving one another, in allowing one another to grow, in refusing gossip and in nurturing newness. Instead of seeing this as an impossible task, do as Jesus suggests and when you meet those who are hostile, work on yourself. Change your reactions. Take on a new perspective and let your enemies bring out the best in you – not the worst. You will be amazed at the fresh air this new attitude invites. And you will be amazed at the new direction your life will take.

Jesus challenges us to be more that the run-of-the-mill sinner as he reminds us that anyone can love their friends. The true challenge is in loving those who harm us. Do we believe in Jesus enough to take on this challenge?

 

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part I

Sunday, February 19, 2017god-is-love1

For the next several days we will explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. Today, what does Jesus tell us about the freedom we find when we stay clear of the temptation to seek revenge?

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: “Don’t hit back at all”. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

Jesus challenges us to live generously; yet what does this mean?

This is impossible, we say to ourselves as we hear his words. And a life lived in this way will never work. Who will protect me and my loved ones if I do not? How will I keep the bullies at bay? And how will I avoid being everyone’s doormat? This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

confucious-revenge-two-gravesGod says: I am quite aware that many of you see Jesus’ suggestion as an idealistic, and even ridiculous, plan for living. You see the Law of Freedom as a threat to your autonomy. You see the world viewed from this perspective of love – without defenses and using liberal amounts of revenge – as childish. But I say to you that it is childlike. I do not ask you to go into the world completely open to assault; rather, I ask that you use my enormous power, presence and love as a bulwark and as your rock of safety. I ask you to trust me more than you trust your own resources and your little powers. I also ask that you replace your bluster and bravado with my own call to love those who hate you and wish you harm. When you surrender to my Law of Freedom, you give up all pretense of power – and yet you will have more power than you ever imagined. When you remain in and with me, you need not build the walls you falsely believe will protect you. I ask that you put away your childish ways of dependence of self and replace them the childlike life of generosity and openness. I tell you that this new interaction with the world brings you a new freedom . . . and even a new authority, the authority of my love that surpasses all.

Jesus challenges us to live generously. Do we see ourselves as able to follow this call?

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Psalm 106:47: Gather Us

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Laurie Pace: The People are Gathering

Laurie Justus Pace: The People are Gathering

As we struggle to give thanks in a time when we are discouraged, we pray.

Save us, O Lord our God,
    and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise. (NRSV)

As we work through our fears on a day when we flounder, we pray.

Save us, O Lord our God,
    and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
    and praise your holy name. (GNT)

As we look for the hope we remember we are promised, we pray.

Save us, Adonai our God!
Gather us from among the nations,
so that we can thank your holy name
and glory in praising you. (CJB)

As we persist in following Christ despite the fog that clouds The Way, we pray.

Save us, God, our God!
    Gather us back out of exile
So we can give thanks to your holy name
    and join in the glory when you are praised! (MSG)

As we wrestle with God’s call to love our enemies, we ask that God gather us in and, in the name of God . . .  we pray. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we feel ourselves gathered into the immense, powerful yet tender arms of God.

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Matthew 4:12-23: Going to Galilee

Sunday, January 29, 2017

www.bible-history.comMap of Ancient Israel

http://www.bible-history.com: Map of Ancient Israel

I am still reflecting on last Sunday’s Gospel to consider how it speaks to me today.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

We look at a map of the Palestine in ancient days to study how Jesus’ actions suggest a plan for our own lives.

We investigate the spiritual, civil and social characteristics of Galilee in Jesus’ time to understand the environment in which he worked, and prayed, and played and we find our question on a PBS Frontline  episode. “What kind of place was Galilee at the time of Jesus? Was it a quiet, rustic, peaceful little tranquil place? It looks that way, sure. But the region was known for being a hotbed of political activity and some of it violent . . . But in [an] historical context that region was always a contested region”.  We can read more if we want to go further but I realize, as I spend time all week uncovering my own emotions over the past few days, and I wonder . . . what might we do with this story?

www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

http://www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

When we look for information about Capernaum, we remember that the people of the town rejected Jesus and his miracles, so we go back to today’s Noontime verses.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

When we find ourselves in a hotbed of political activity, we do not run away. We hold firm quietly to meet threats with grace and love.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

When our friends and colleagues suffer persecution, and we know the hatchet is coming our way, we rely on the authority Jesus gives us. We remember that Jesus calls us to outrageous hope.

Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

www.pbs.org: A portrait of Jesus' World

http://www.pbs.org: Galilee, A portrait of Jesus’ World

When we realize that we are in the middle of contested regions where lies replace certainties, we hold tightly to the truth, we listen to our persecutors and pray for them, and we ask that Jesus turn all hearts of stone to hearts of mercy and compassion.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

If we want to follow the Christ, we too must journey to Galilee and Capernaum and although we may flinch, we fire up our souls with the love of Christ . . . and we go.

To explore Galilee and Capernaum, click on the links and images for more information.

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