Summary: Jesus provides us with an ideal prescription for what radical love requires and looks like. Through the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to live it. How will WE choose to respond?
Third in Series: “Love In Action”
Rev. Todd G. Leupold Perth Bible Church July 13, 2008 AM
As we continue to talk about “Love In Action,” it is important that we understand the tremendous differences between living love in motion, and going through the motions.
For a picture of what I mean, imagine of a service-oriented business such as Fed Ex were to operate the way some Christians and churches do . . .
VIDEO: “Fedless” (BluefishTv) – 34.8 secs
Governments can get (and often do) get away that kind of attitude and commitment to “the least necessary” reflected by statements such as:
“what can we get by with?”
“shouldn’t that be somebody else’s job?”
“they don’t pay me enough to do that” or
“I’ve put in my 20 yrs., let someone else do it now.”
It doesn’t matter how many people we are technically ’serving.’ It matters immensely, however, HOW and with what attitude we are serving them!
Remember, last week we addressed the importance of seeing others and the world around us as Jesus does – from the perspective of the cross. This morning, we will further examine how that perspective is to translate into practical living.
Jesus has set for us both an example and a standard for how we are to lived, how we are to love, and what price we should be willing to pay.
The question is: how will WE choose to respond to His example and standard of Radical Love for others?
- Jesus here gives us an ideal prescription for what radical love requires and looks like.
RADICAL LOVE IS:
I.) STRONG BUT GENTLE AND FULL OF GRACE WHEN DISRESPECTED
First of all, please understand that the law concerning “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was given by God as a principal of justice to be legally applied by the societies justices (not individuals) and as a check against the contrasting tendencies to pass sentences that greatly
exceeding the nature of the crime itself.
Therefore, the context here is NOT revenge or retaliation but righteous justice.
This idea is further reinforced in verse 39 with the phrase “don’t resist an evildoer.” That is, don’t “set yourself against,” or “retaliate.” The idea of “you get me, I’ll get you in kind” is neither biblical nor the example of Christ. Just sinful man . . .
One summer evening, a weary truck driver pulled his rig into an all-night truck stop. He was tired and hungry. The waitress had just finally served him his dinner, when three three rough-neck, no-good motorcyclists decided to give him a hard time. Not only did they verbally abuse him, but consumed his dinner before him. One grabbed his hamburger, the other a big, greasy handful of fries, and the third his cup of coffee.
So, how did this trucker respond? Well, not the way you might assume. He calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front cashier, laid down his check and money and then went out the door. After picking up the money, the waitress stood and watched as he drove out into the night.
When she returned, growled to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I don’t know about that, but he sure isn’t much of a truck driver. He just ran over 3 motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot.”
(adapted from Jeffery Anselmi, www.sermoncentral.com)
Second, we must understand that the concept of slapping someone on the cheek in this context is NOT, as often assumed, about physical violence or harm. To slap someone on the cheek in this time and culture was to backhand them across the face not to physically injure, but as a public sign of great disrespect.
The real principle here, then, that Jesus is addressing is how a child of God should respond to a blatant act of disrespect.
His answer: “turn the other to him also.” In other words, to over-react or even to react in kind NOT the way of God’s Kingdom. ’Tit-for-tat’ may be just, but it is neither best nor what our Heavenly Father expects from His children.
But why turn the other cheek also? Isn’t that just being a wimp, accepting an injustice, a vain seeking after martyrdom or even just plain STUPID? Does God expect us to just be the world’s spittoon and enjoy it?
NO! In fact, He is telling us to stand against such disrespect with great strength, wisdom and effectiveness! You see, as Jesus proved for all eternity on the cross, radical love defeats blatant disrespect every time!!!
It is communicating to your assailant: “You may grievously disrespect me, but you cannot hurt him for I know whose judgment really counts and where I stand.” “I don’t need to retaliate because I have confidence that the justice and vengeance of the LORD of Hosts will ’do the job’ far greater than I ever could.” “You can bruise my body, but never my spirit.” “You disrespect me with selfishness, vanity, jealousness and/or hatred in your heart that you cannot contain – but from a greater strength that can be found only in Christ, I choose to exercise gentleness and race.” “Recognizing the true condition of your heart that enslaves you to such action, my heart breaks with compassion and a desire for you to be free.”