What if the world lived like the scripture passage describes? Jesus was trying to explain the differences that being one of his disciples would make in a persons life.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What if we lived like this passage described?
There is a classic quote from Leo Tolstoy, “I set out to change the world, and found I could not; I set out to change my country and found it too was impossible; I set out to change myself and thought that was enough of a challenge.
The challenge that Jesus places before us is to change ourselves – or more to the point – to allow the Spirit of the Divine to transform us. It is the only way that any of what is in Matthew 5 is possible. It is our willingness to let our faith and heart shape the agenda of our days that make is possible to walk the road of faith.
The scripture text above makes no sense in our world – and I hold no hope that it will ever embrace these ideas of submission. Our country was actually founded on the idea of the Holy City of God; however, it has not, nor never did live up to the great hope of a country founded for the planting of God’s kingdom.
We are left with ourselves – which is work enough – to allow the spirit of peace and submission to sink deep into our souls. It is truly a way of shalom. If you love those who love you, what reward is that – everybody does it; but to love those who need love desperately that is a gift. How do we do that? I have a son who is living a life of addiction. And I love him and I pray for him and I imagine wonderful things he could do with his life if the addiction did not own him. Yet, I know he must make his own choices and there is pain for me in watching and waiting; and there is always love. Is this the love God wants me to have for all of his creation. To love even in the midst of stupidity; to love through the pain and find peace on the other side of the pain. I know there is a peace there as well.
I don’t believe the passage in Matthew 5 is there to make us a door mat for people to use, but a person of peace. That in any and all situations to find the love and grace of the Divine, which is ever present, and share it as best we can. We are human, yet we can be filled with the Divine presence. It is a good goal to reach for during this journey of life. Peace