Habitant for Inhumanity October 23, 2012 – Posted in: Love
Matthew 5:43-48 The Message (MSG)
“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. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
This (admittedly provocative) paraphrase raises the subject of which everyone must face:
We all have to deal with difficult people.
Sometimes they come to us out of nowhere, accosting us with no rhyme or reason.
Other times, it may be someone who is close to us – family, a friend, or even a spouse.
These times often affect us more deeply.
We know not to fight evil with evil….and Christ elevates the standard to loving all well beyond what they deserve… but how is this practically lived out ?
I have a response in part, but not in full.
We are all familiar with “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile” as well as “pray for your enemies…bless and do not curse” as to “heap coals on their heads.” There are some interesting cultural explanations behind some of these customs or phrases which Christ could be evoking….but suffice it to say, I believe the common denominator behind all of them is this:
“Christians are to expose inhumanity in humane ways.”
For those who can bear to hear it, we need to leave room for spontaneity and creativity of the Spirit in our obedience to love the unloving….yet the above edict honors Christ’s teachings and can serve as our basis, or guide.
Ok, let me explain:
Let’s look at Christ first (the One who showed us what being human is all about).
In a situation where a group of sinners were going to kill a sinner for being a sinner, Jesus did something “creative and in the moment” to expose the inhumanity.
Surprisingly, He stooped down and drew in the dirt, peacefully challenging “the one with no sin to cast the first stone,” against someone caught in adultery. People were brought back to their humanity, as the oldest to the youngest realized what had been exposed. (John 8)
This scene illuminates for us how Christ (living in and through Christians) often chooses to love those who are hard to love.
The general steps are:
- Do something surprising to rouse the other.
- That something is to be creatively peace –keeping.
- That peace-keeping is to call the other back to the Image in which they were created.
If we can carry these intentions into those tense and tricky times of dealing with those who assault us, we will experience the abiding of the God who is Love. Generally, this can be further simplified by meeting the need of the other, gently and tenderly. ( 1 John 4:16)
So for those of us who are thrown off kilter, and can’t see how to respond to certain individuals…consider the above and may resurrected Spirit of Christ meet you in the act of obedience today. When the wash of surprise, or disgust, comes over you from the harsh words or actions of another… ask
“How can I tend to the humanity here ?”