Summary: The religious leaders of the world can quote their wise and holy men in ways that show they too have many of the values of the Sermon on the Mount. But they have nothing to match the teachings of Christ on the love of one's enemies.
Almost everybody agrees with the Sermon on the Mount in general, but almost
nobody can agree to the specifics of the last part of chapter 5. Even Nikita Krushev, an
atheist, when he was the leader of Russia, could say he agreed with the Sermon on the
Mount, for even in Russia they do not consider murder, adultery, divorce, and all kinds
of broken relationships as beneficial to society. Krushev said, "I only disagree on one
point and that was when Christ said, 'If I am struck on the one cheek I will turn the
other.' I believe in another principle: If I am hit on the left cheek, I hit back on the right
cheek so strongly that the head may fall off."
Krushev was representing the vast majority of the world, for most of the religions of
the world can buy into the wisdom of this great sermon, but at this point they draw back
and refuse to follow. Only one non-Christian ever had the nerve to try and apply these
teachings of Christ in a world of conflict, and that was Gandhi. He changed the course of
history for many millions of people because he proved that the way of Christ can work.
In one of the closing scenes of the movie Gandhi, a Hindu leader comes to the bedside of
Gandhi, and he pleads for him to stop his fasting. He reaffirms that he will not stop until
Hindus and Moslems stop fighting.
The Hindu says he hates them and cannot stop, and he explains the basis for his
hatred. Moslems took his little boy and crushed his head. He in turn captured a Moslem
boy and killed him by the same method. Revenge reigned in their hearts, and though
everyone was miserable there was no way out of this living hell of endless retaliation.
Gandhi said that there was a way out. He said to go and find another boy like the one you
killed, and the one the Moslem killed, and take him into your home and raise him as a
Moslem. Gandhi was saying that the only hope is to love your enemy, and he proved that
even pagans can be part of the answer if they live by these principles of Christ.
Unfortunately, Gandhi was one in a billion.
We are dealing with that part of the Sermon on the Mount that really separates the
men from the boys. The Jews have done enormous research to show that their Rabbis,
through the centuries, have come up with similar ideas to those of Jesus, but they cannot
find anything to match this idea of loving your enemy. The religious leaders of the world
can quote their wise and holy men in ways that show they too have many of the values of
the Sermon on the Mount. But they have nothing to match the teachings of Christ on the
love of one's enemies. After all, enemies by very definition are not to be loved.
E. Stanley Jones, author of dozens of marvelous books, writes of these verses we are
looking at: "When I come to the following verses I breath a little faster, for we now have
reached the very crux of the whole Sermon on the Mount. This refusal to retaliate, the
turning of the other cheek, and the loving of one's enemies are the center of the whole. If
this principle is not workable, then the heart of the sermon does not beat-it is a carcass, a
dead body of doctrine. If it is workable and every other way that cuts across it is
unworkable, then its heart does beat, and beating it pumps its warm life blood into every
portion of the Christian soul and of Christian society and makes them live." It is hard to
believe these verses can be of such great significance, but the evidence is very strong that
they represent the only hope for man to escape from his own self-destruction.
Billy Graham's book Approaching Hoofbeats deals with the four horseman in the
book of Revelation. In it he makes clear that the next war will be the only truly World
War, for it will involve the whole world. All other wars leave millions of people detached,
and they can talk about the war going on someplace else. Graham quotes the president of
the United Nations General Assembly. "What have the governments of the world to
respond to the fervent demand of the people's of the world that this insane arms race be
stopped?" He gave his own reply by saying, "You and I know that answer, but I want to
state it for the world to hear-nothing!" Things have changed since Graham wrote his
book, but the fact remains that there are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the whole