I spoke about how God works in unexpected ways.
This was illustrated through the story of Joseph.
· Sold by his brothers into slavery.
· Sold into Potiphar’s house.
· Falsely accused and sent to jail.
· Languished in jail after helping his cell mates out.
· Second in command to Pharaoh.
· In the power position when his brothers are in need.
And to this, Joseph proclaims to his brothers,
“What you meant for harm, God meant for good.”
Both in Joseph’s response (the super-optimistic-visionary)
And in God’s working within the situation.
This was also illustrated in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
In speaking of the way our perishable lives
are changed to imperishable ones,
Paul brings the sacrifice of Jesus into focus
as an unexpected gift to the world: salvation.
And this was definitely illustrated in Jesus’ charge to those present in the Gospel reading. His words are unexpected and his hearers would have been taken aback.
“Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Pray for those who abuse you.”
Disciples: Really Jesus?
You want me to be nice to the people who aren’t nice to me?
What happened to the “blessed/woe” thing you just said?
You just said that I was blessed.
Why the “love the enemy” thing?
Jesus: Wait, there’s more.
“If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.
Anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you.
If anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.”
Discples: Now I’ve got to give things up?
For the people who have taken from me already?
Jesus: Still more.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Discples: Okay, I can get behind this. I can do for others as I expect them to do to me.
Jesus: I don’t think you heard me. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Disciples: Hmmm…so it’s the same thing as the other things you said. I have to do to people the things that I know are the right things to do regardless of whether they do the right thing by me.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
The disciples would have been challenged by this charge from Jesus.
It was counter-intuitive.
And Jesus went on to say more things just like this.
None more powerful and direct as this:
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend,
expecting nothing in return.
Your reward will be great,
and you will be children of the Most High;
For he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”
This is the crux of what Jesus is trying to communicate.
Jesus is asking His disciples to behave differently
Because the God that is calling them behaves differently.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”Romans 5:6-8
God loves us in spite of where we are at.
He loves us warts and all.
He loves us even though we make bad decisions.
He loves us even though we are hurtful.
He loves us even though we lack faith.
He lacks us even though we are selfish.
Ultimately, we are the ungrateful and wicked people that God loves.
And He loves us enough to call us into His ministry of loving people for no reason.
The people that hate us.
The people that curse us.
The people that abuse us.
The people that take from us.
The needy people.
The high maintenance people.
The “get out of my space” people.
The “not like us” people.
Why would we love those who hate us?
Because God loves us.
And He has shown us that He loves the unlovely.
And to God,
We were the unlovely ones that he chose to love.