Summary: A sermon that looks at the radical love of God and challenges us to try and imitate it.
“That’s the Way God Loves”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, Tn www.eastridgeumc.com
There once was a father who had to go out of town…
…away from his young family for three or four days on business.
Worried that his kids would drive his wife mad, he had a word with his oldest son, who was nine at the time.
“When I’m away,” he said, “I want you to think about what I would normally do around the house, and you do it for me.”
He had in mind, of course, cleaning up the kitchen, washing the dishes, making the bed, taking out the garbage, and helping to keep the other children in line.
When he got back from his business trip, the man asked his wife what the son had done.
“Well,” she said, “it was very strange. Right after breakfast he made himself another cup of coffee, went into the living room, put on some loud music, and read the newspaper for half an hour.”
The father was left wondering if his son had obeyed him a bit too accurately!
The shocking thing about this passage of Scripture is that we are told to watch what our Heavenly Father is doing and then do the same ourselves.
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus tells us.
Well, yes, on one level it is.
But Jesus’ teaching isn’t just good advice, it’s Good News!
Jesus did it all Himself and opened up the new way of being human…
…we are, after-all created in God’s image…
…so that all who follow Him can discover it…
…discover how and who we were created to be in the first place!!!
When they mocked Jesus, He didn’t respond.
When they challenged Him, He told quizzical, sometimes humorous, stories that forced them to think differently.
When they struck Him, He took the pain.
When they put the worst bit of Roman equipment on His back—the heavy Cross on which He would be killed—He carried it out of the city to the place of His own execution.
When they nailed Him to it, He prayed for them.
These Words of Jesus from Matthew Chapter 5 aren’t just about us.
If they were, we might just admire them as a fine bit of idealism, but then we’d probably return to our normal lives.
Jesus was talking about Himself.
This was the blueprint for His own life, and He asks nothing from us that He hasn’t faced Himself!!!
And within Jesus’ life we are shown what God is really like.
Jesus lived a Perfect Life on this earth, just as the Heavenly Father is Perfect!!!
This Scripture isn’t just about how to behave…
…it’s about discovering the Living God in the loving, and dying Jesus, and learning to reflect that love ourselves into the world that needs it so badly!!!
In bringing us to Christ, God isn’t just calling us to be God’s special people while the rest of the world remains in outer darkness.
We are called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
God has saved us so that through us, God can bless all people!
And Jesus is the Way!
Jesus has carved out the path through the jungle, urging us to come with Him on the dangerous road.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person…
… You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
What in the world?
This is radical!
No other god encourages people to behave like this!
No court of law even goes this far.
No television pundit nor politician gives us these kinds of directions.
This is not the way of the world.
This is God’s Way.
This is how God treats us!!!
This is how God loves and Is!!!
The Old justice found in the Old Testament was designed to prevent revenge from running away with itself.
Better an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth than an escalating feud with each side going one worse than the other.
But Jesus goes much farther still!
It’s better to have no revenge at all, but rather a creative way forward…
…which directly reflects the astonishingly patient Love of God Who wants His Church to shine His Light into the world so that all people will see that He is the One true God, and that His deepest flowing nature is overflowing love!
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement defined Christian Perfection as “having a habitual love for God and neighbor.”