Sermons

Summary: "Turning the other cheek" is a challenge to anyone who follows Jesus. What is it? What is it not?

1. Love Walks

In the early 1990s, gang violence erupted in Boyle Heights, a section of East Los Angeles. 8 gangs were in conflict in the parish around the Dolores Mission Catholic Church. Killings and injuries happened daily. A group of women who met for prayer read together the story of Jesus walking on water...Then one of the mothers, electrified by the text, began to identify the parallels between the Jesus story and her own...

That night, seventy women began...a procession from one barrio to another. They brought food, guitars, and love. As they ate chips and salsa and drank Cokes with gang members, [they began to sing traditional songs together]. The gangs were disoriented, baffled; the war zones were silent.

Each night the mothers walked. By nonviolently intruding and intervening, they "broke the rules of war." The old script of retaliation and escalating violence was challenged and changed. It is no accident that the women christened their nighttime journeys "love walks."

As the relationships between the women and the gang members grew, the kids told their stories. Anguish over lack of jobs; anger at police brutality; rage over the hopelessness of poverty. Together they developed a tortilla factory, a bakery, a child-care center, a job-training program, a class on conflict-resolution techniques, a school for further learning, a neighborhood group to monitor and report police misbehavior, and more.

2. Sounds similar to Matthew 5.38-48

3. Difficult passage -- tension between passive resistance and aggressive self-defense -- both are acceptable to God

I. God Is Not a Pacifist

A. Yeshua (Jesus is seen as a Pacifist

[There are pacifist groups that base their pacifism on Yeshua's (Jesus' words) -- Amish; Quakers

1. His teachings to his disciples include:

a. No Killing

b. Resist evil with good (Paul: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap fiery coals [of shame] on his head." Romans 12.20)

c. "Love enemies" -- best way to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend -- Japan WWII

d. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10.28

e. Save life by losing it

2. In his death -- Luke 23.34

3. Not a Pacifist with the money changers

4. Not a Pacifist with the Corrupted religious leaders -- Matthew 15.1-39; 23.1ff

B. God is the Great Activist

1. The Exodus -- 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." Exodus 19.4-6

a. Death of firstborn

b. Death of Pharaoh's Army in the sea

2. The coming of Yeshua (Jesus) into the world -- God's Initiative

PURSUING A PRINCESS

The great Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard illustrates the pursuit of God with a story about a prince in search for a future queen. One day while the prince was running an errand in the local village for his father he passed through a poor section of the city. As he was passing through, he happened to see a beautiful young maiden. She was poor and lower class, but she was absolutely beautiful. After passing through the village several times, he found he was falling in love with her.

But he had a problem. How would he go about winning her hand in marriage? He could simply order her to marry him, but he wasn't just seeking a queen. He was seeking a soul mate. If he coerced her to love him, he would never know if she really loved him for who he was or just because of the splendor of his position and wealth.

So the prince came up with another solution. He took off his kingly robe and put on the garb of a peasant. He moved into the village and began to live among the people. He shared their interests and their concerns, and he talked their language. This was no mere disguise; it was a new identity. Over time, he was able to see the young girl. It wasn't instant, but in time the young woman grew to love the prince. She loved him because he first loved her.

And so, Jesus, who being in very nature God, made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant and being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself. Why? So that you -- YOU -- might know him. So that you might love him because he has loved you.

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