Have you read the words in Luke 6:27-36 lately? They are, I believe, some of the most difficult words Jesus says. I have a tough time putting these into action in my life. I need to do better. No excuses. No exceptions. What about you?
I would like to challenge you – my friends. Think of your enemy. Really. Identify your enemy. Name him or her or them. If you say you don’t have one you are being dishonest with yourself. Is it your neighbor? Your ex? Someone you work with? A person who bullied you? Someone who stole from you? Somebody who assaulted you or someone you love? A political party leader? A terrorist? A religion? Identify your enemy by name — and then read these words spoken by Jesus.
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Luke 6:27-29
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36
Have you given your enemy any gifts or money lately? Have you blessed them by doing something for them or helping them in some way? Have you truly prayed for their well-being or health or happiness recently?
I’ll say it again. These are some of the most difficult words from Jesus you will find. Lord, please help us to be more like You!
Blessed Father on Heaven’s throne
With holy name to you we groan
Kingdom ruled by your righteous Son
In Heav’n and earth your will be done
At your mercy through life we tread
Give us today our daily bread
Our debt to you please now forgive
As we do likewise let us live
From temptations lead as we run
Protect us from the evil one
Your glory never shall be changed
These things we ask in Jesus’ name
– by Bob Baulch
Do you have nice things? I do. My wife generously gave me the guitar of my dreams a few months ago – so now I can’t blame my substandard playing abilities on the instrument anymore. But, that’s not the focus of this post.
I have a nice home, car, and furniture. Do you? Do you treasure your stuff? It’s hard not to – especially when it’s new, cool, or sentimental. But Jesus warns us – things of this world are temporary. They get outdated, stained, dented and stolen. Treasures on Earth will not last forever – but Heaven does. Spiritual treasures are eternal.
Am I willing to give it all away if that is what’s preventing me from giving my life to Jesus? Matthew 6:19-21 is a hard teaching – one of the most difficult – especially in America. But Jesus said I need to follow Him instead of getting more of the worthless “treasures” this world offers.
Jesus demands my focus and devotion instead of wasting my time with things that will do me no good once I die. I pray that I can do it. I know it is going to be tough – especially when your wife buys you a fantastic guitar.
I have some tough news to share. Jesus doesn’t want you to be a part of Christianity. He wasn’t a part of Christianity Himself. More important is the fact that Jesus did not even establish Christianity! You might be a little upset right now. I understand.
Jesus was quite critical of two groups of people during His ministry: the religious and the rich. In fact, the more religious and the more rich you were — the more Jesus would target you.
Obviously, the wealthy were rebuked because they trusted in and loved their belongings more than they trusted and loved God. But, the religious leaders and elite were also chastised because they trusted and loved the structure of their religion and their righteousness more than they trusted and loved God.
My friends, Jesus didn’t call the righteous — Jesus called sinners. He didn’t call people to be religious — He called people to follow Him. The reward was not a promise of material blessings — it was a promise of being persecuted and ostracized. Jesus did not create a list of rules and regulations as a standard — He lived a flawless life of love, humility, giving and sacrifice that we are to imitate.
Christianity is a religion. Coming to this realization may change your life. It might even make you start questioning how and why you do things. My prayer is that it will make you pursue Jesus instead of pursuing a set of religious beliefs.
I still struggle in this area. It is so easy to replace a trust in Jesus with a trust in Christianity. I invite you — I implore you — follow Jesus — not a religion.
I love the parable Jesus told that compares the kingdom of Heaven to a man who discovered a hidden treasure in a field and then, in his joy, sells everything he has to buy the field (Matthew 13:44). It is one verse long and is packed with application in our lives. I know this bores many of my friends, but I’m going to share just five of my thoughts — and ask you to comment if you’d like to add anything.
1. God’s kingdom is worth more than everything I own.
2. Am I willing to sell it all to get the kingdom? (I struggle with this one a lot)
3. The field is always for sale – and the price is always the same.
4. Just because someone gets an identical field — it doesn’t mean they have the treasure. Here is the implication of that point: if we equate the field to how we live, and then compare our lives to the lives of genuine followers of Jesus, just because we look like we follow Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean that we are.
5. If the treasure were moved, the field would lose its value — so we need to focus on the treasure and not the field. Here is the implication of that point: if we equate “religion” or “Christianity” with the field, we need to be constantly aware that neither has eternal value in and of themselves.