Day 78 – Radical Love
On: January 17, 2015   |   By: admin   |   Under: Blog   |   Comments: Comments are off

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. [Luke 6:27-30]

Jesus’ teaching is the most radical manifesto ever presented. It doesn’t just run counter to prevailing culture, it reverses our very instincts. Historians will advise whether the teaching was any less challenging in previous generations but, for those of us in the 21st Century, it is the exact opposite of how we are expected to prioritise our lives.

“Love your enemies …” throws sand in the face of an assumed entitlement to revenge. “If someone takes your coat …”, makes a mockery of a self at the centre mindset that would at minimum  demand it back, possibly even consider suing the offending party? Jesus tells us, not just to grin and bear it, but to bless them. Is this practical? Is it achievable? One thing for sure – it is a command from the leader of those who would name Jesus as Lord of their life.

I scratched my head at how we might approach this and was reminded of a prayer reprinted in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents in Norwich Cathedral. May this be a starting point for the basis on which we approach those who would mistreat us.

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to the suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne, be their forgiveness. Amen.

This is a prayer found on a piece of wrapping paper in Ravensbruck, the largest of the concentration camps for women in Nazi Germany.

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