“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:27-31
So, I’ve been reading and re-reading Luke. Every time I come to this passage I’m stopped short. I want to say, “Really Lord?”
Several years ago, while living in Moscow (Russia), my friend Debbie and I spent a nice spring day shopping in the city. We’d lived in Moscow for a few years, knew the language pretty well, and felt relatively safe most of the time. But on that particular day, as we meandered our way to lunch, a group of gypsy teenagers, all in a line, brushed past us. Debbie grabbed my arm and said, “Cas, I think they’re coming back this way.” As quickly as I turned around to look, a tall and slender, dark-haired boy was running toward me. He grabbed my purse, which I wore across my body for security. It was well made so it took all of his force to break the strap. In a nanosecond we were both on the ground reaching for my bag. He snatched it first and took off running.
Each time I read Luke 6:27-31 I reflect back to that day. I wonder, how would it have been different had I hollered at that kid and said (in my not-that-great Russian), “Hey come back! I want to give you the rest of the money in my coat pocket! And, tell your friends that I’ll pass on my jacket and warm boots too.” I’m confident, had I done so, he would never believe my words were true.
On a different, but sort of similar note, on Monday I pulled up to a stoplight on my way home from my office. Sylvester held out his bucket and asked me for spare change. Per usual I had no money in my wallet. So, he asked me, after admiring my Beetle, if I’d buy him a Sprite at the nearby Sheetz. So, I bought him lunch instead. When I stepped out of the store there he was waiting – hungry. I took his hand and prayed over his lunch and him, and now I can’t get him out of my mind. I’ve considered offering him a few nights in our guest room, although I’ve not broached the topic with Bob yet. He may think I’ve lost my marbles. Or, maybe not.
The point is, Jesus lived this way! He gave everything for thieves, downcast, helpless, hungry people like you, me, Sylvester, and those kids in Moscow. He, purely because of who He is, lived a radical life serving, healing, feeding outcasts and sinners; and, as He hung on the cross He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” I want to live my life for, and like Jesus everyday.