Epiphany 7 :: God’s Kin-dom come!

Matthew 5.38-48


Morning light

I don’t like these tough sayings of Jesus. Can’t he just tell me what I want to hear? Can’t he just once tell me that it’s okay to exact revenge on those who want to hurt me? And I mean those who want to hurt me, not just those who have already hurt me! And why should I go the extra mile for anyone who forces me to do anything? What about free will? Aren’t I free to do just whatever I want? Loving my sisters and brothers is hard enough. Do I have to love my enemies, too? How about if I continue hating my enemies and do everything to stop them so that my brothers and sisters and I can live in peace and quiet!

Well, obviously, Jesus is trying to tell me — to tell us — that God’s Kin-dom [that’s not a typo!] doesn’t work that way. The reign of God — God’s Realm — is a place where the values of God trump the values of humans. Or, rather, in God’s reign, our values must be replaced by those of God. We simply cannot continue to take our enemies and place them in categories of “other” or “alien” or “not-like-me-and-therefore-not-human” [got that Ted Nugent?] By doing so, we refuse them the very grace of God that we ourselves so desperately need.

So what exactly happens when we turn the other cheek or go that extra mile or love those who hate and persecute us? We do what Jesus did, who “When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” [1 Peter 2.23]

And thus God’s Kin-dom values replace our own.

Something to ponder:

Where do you experience God’s values in the world? What challenges do they present?

Link to RCL Lectionary for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany.

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