One truth shared: Jesus speaks clearly to his disciples and us and directs us toward radical love.
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…. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
But Jesus, that’s not fair. It’s not just. It is just not right.
That’s the way it feels. If someone hurts us, that wrong must be righted. If an injustice occurs, there must be justice. If someone speaks evil about us, then we must speak up and speak out against them. At the very least, we should do nothing.
But Jesus goes beyond calling us to inaction here. He calls us to action. He calls us to loving action. He calls us to do good to those who may have done us harm. He calls us to pray for them, to intercede for them. He calls us bless them and to mean it when we do.
This kind of love to which Jesus calls us seems to be upside down. It’s the hardest kind of love.
Well, kind of. When we think this way, we are assuming that we deserve better from other people and better from God. We assume that we’ve never hated, that we’ve never cursed, that we’ve never mistreated. We’re thinking to ourselves that we have somehow deserved goodness and blessing.
Do you know what mercy is? It is to withhold the justice that is due. It is to not give what is deserved.
That’s what God has shown toward you. He has given you blessing and forgiveness, instead of eternal cursing and condemnation. He turns his face and his attention toward you instead of turning away from you in anger. He does not give you what you deserve—though he has every right to do it. Instead, he gives you everything—and I do mean everything—that you do not deserve.
Maybe you and that enemy of yours are not so different after all. Perhaps you and those who mistreat you are not so different after all. So, let’s do the weird thing (at least to the world), the radical thing, the God-thing. Let’s hear Jesus today and be merciful just like God has been merciful to us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you call me to a love that is like yours. That’s so hard. It’s hard to not want to give what is deserved to another. But that’s the way you loved me. You did not give me the justice I deserved. Teach me to be merciful, just like you are merciful. Amen.