Sunday School: Love for Enemies
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As we seem to be in this for the long haul, all of the adult Sunday School teachers will be rotating doing the weekly lesson.
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to reflect on your week, and the person prayers you have. If you have any you would like to share, you can do that in the comments at the bottom. When you are ready, pray the prayer below.
God, I know that You are able to handle my every need, so please give me the courage to bring all my struggles before You. Stir in my heart a desire to seek You first above all else, because You are the One who cares for me.
[Include your person requests here.]
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This week's lesson is on Luke 6:27-36.
Sermon of the Plain
The desire for revenge is one of the deepest of human impulses. Sadness, rage, powerlessness and a host of other emotions drive us to this. Jesus calls us to something very different, a new way of living in the world.
Jesus had left to pray on a mountain. Prayer preceded Jesus choosing of the twelve. After that he came down to the plain. Jesus primary audience was the twelve with everyone else in attendance could hear. The disciples were already committed in word and deed to follow the Lord. He painted a picture of the community that he was forming around him, of its way of life.
They undercut the conventional view of the world that justifies the way in which most of Jesus’ hearers live out their daily lives. Most people, both then and now, would point to the rich and powerful, the popular an elite, as successful and honored in this life. Jesus is saying this isn’t so. Rather, it is the poor and hungry, the bereft and the persecuted, who are truly blessed. They can look forward to unimaginable blessings in heaven.
27. But to you are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
This is a high standard, and not natural for us, but it surely attainable. The believer who is growing becomes increasingly able to extend love to their enemies. Love is defined by action ( do good), not sentiment or feeling. Love cost something; it does not come cheap.
28. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
It would have been easy and perfectly natural for the believers to return curses for curses or to otherwise retaliate for the abuse they suffered. Instead of this , Jesus called them and us to do the opposite, to bless those who curse them and to offer up prayers for those who take advantage of them.
Jesus didn’t say we have to enjoy being treated poorly. But regardless of our feelings, we can honor Jesus command to pray for anyone who has caused us pain.
29-30 if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt to them. Give to everyone who ask you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
We need to only consider Jesus suffering and how easily he could have put an end to it to realize that Jesus modeled exactly what he preached.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
We commonly call this the Golden Rule
32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
Jesus called his disciples to go beyond this limiting standard, “righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law” that Jesus explicitly called for.
33. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.
Good should be shown to others for its own sake, not for the sake of anything that we might receive in return.
34. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be paid in full.
35. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Christian love does not seek any benefit beyond the opportunity to act in love.
36. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
God is merciful. His actions towards us are gracious and ultimately intended for our redemption.
Conclusion: This isn’t a difficult passage to understand but it is an exceedingly difficult passage to put into practice.
We need to take Jesus words about love of enemies to reshape our hearts and our lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant us the courage to pattern our lives after the teaching of Jesus rather than what is acceptable according to our culture. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
This week's benediction is from the New King James Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Luke 10:25-37.
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We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.