Last week I asked what vision of “the good life” was driving our words and actions. While culture tells us one thing, Jesus’ words tell us something different. If we let them, they’ll turn our cultural expectations of what blessing looks like upside down. The money, power, and social acceptance that we so frequently associate with blessing or “the good life” aren’t God’s priorities.
Instead, Jesus describes God’s perspective on reality:
20 “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.Luke 6:20–22
21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
In light of this perspective, Jesus then summons us to a different vision of His kingdom, calling us to a different way of life in the following verses:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. . . . 35 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. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”Luke 6:27–31, 35–38
Did you catch it? When we live this way we demonstrate that we are the “children of the Most High.”
The question, then, is how do we really define “the good life” deep down? Are we being more shaped by God’s vision or that of our culture? We can tell based on our actions and motives.
If you feel like I’m pointing a finger at you, don’t! I’ve got four pointing right back at me.
Last week I commented that Jamie Smith suggests that our habitual practices shape our desires as much as our desires shape our practices. While he focuses on worship, maybe we also need to see about choosing to engage with intentional practices in our daily lives. So maybe this week we can each just pick one thing out of Jesus’ list and with God’s help start practicing it:
- Demonstrate love for an enemy with concrete actions. (Leviticus 19 gives concrete ways of loving our neighbors. Maybe we can use these verses to find ways to show love for those around us, even those whom we don’t like or who don’t like us.)
- Pray for someone who is mistreating us
- Forgive someone.
- Give others our time or resources
If we all did these things our world, churches, and individual lives would look very different. I’m guessing that not only would we relate to others differently, but that God would use our obedience to Jesus’ call to change our perspective about things.
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