Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service
February 16, 2017
This week’s Thursdays Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Matthew 5: 38-48:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38–48, NIV)
One of the things that’s clear within the life of any church is that it takes courage to continue following the call of Christ. This is because a couple of characteristics in Christian discipleship are vulnerability and forgiveness.
Expressing these qualities is not so easy in a world where division and self-interest rule the day. And yet, a powerful witness continues to be characterized through contemporary disciples within the church.
Although not perfect by any means, when we connect to and carry on as witnesses to the lessons of Jesus, it can have a refining effect like no other. In this endeavor, a couple of ideas come to mind.
On one hand, conscious choice which places oneself in a vulnerable position like Jesus did, and then to purposefully forgive, must also expect the kind of response that Jesus received. For example, his posture was not always rejected out of hand – it was accepted but often and simultaneously generated powerful emotions. Sometimes people walked away from Jesus without comment, without any indication at all. Sometimes the forgiveness he offered was not only rejected out of hand, but was also accompanied by spite, even violence.
On the other hand, the reason for putting oneself in a position of vulnerability and forgiveness is why these deliberate choices are so compelling. They outline a posture which lays a good foundation for trust. Although it may take time to work through a variety of issues, a consistent forgiving attitude leading to effectual change can begin to take hold. Greater trust often inspires cooperative action which enables people to join forces and focus shared resources in ways that can do a lot of good.
Forgiveness is a conscious act of the will
stronger than judgment or criticism,
it must be quietly repeated
Pastor Rich Wagner