On the last two Sundays in February, we will be tackling in our worship services one of the more difficult passages in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (which is really saying something!). My experience is that these verses, while they are well-known to most of us, are dealt with very little in worship and Bible studies simply because they seem so counter to our sensibilities and to our culture. To “turn the other cheek” (which we’ll talk about on the first Sunday) and to “love our enemies” (the topic on the second Sunday) hardly seem to be the way that we are encouraged to operate these days in our polarized times.
The title for this worship “mini-series” will be “Grow Up!”, which is taken from The Message translation of Matthew 5:48, where Jesus issues this command to his disciples and to us. While these words can seem harsh coming from Jesus, what he is telling us isthatwe can only turn the other cheek and love our enemies if we have a certain maturity of our hearts. The Message continues with Jesus saying, “You are Kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity…” In these words is the reminder that we are called to help bring about God’s Kingdom, which Jesus described as a place of unconditional love and acceptance for all people. Obviously, we can only do this if we practice the kind of radical reconciliation and forgiveness suggested from the rest of the passage. But the good news comes in the reality that we have been given a “God-created identity” which is in God’s image. And so because God created us this way, we can love as God loves, and we can forgive as God forgives. And so with that assurance, even in the difficult times of life, even when we are in the midst of difficult people, may we all continue to “Grow Up!” with God’s assistance and after God’s example.
In God’s peace,