We’ve just finished talking about loving your enemy. In Matthew 22:34 we read of a time when an expert in the law comes to Jesus trying to trap him. He asks Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and the second is like it—love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on this.” Jesus knew that love was at the heart of all the Scriptures, and if he appealed to love, all other laws would be covered in that one.
In Luke 10:25, something similar happens, but with a different twist. In Luke, a lawyer asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus says, “What do the Scriptures say?” The lawyer replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says, “That’s right. Do this and you will live.” The lawyer, perhaps looking for a loophole, says, “Well, then, who is my neighbor?” Who counts? Who do I have to love? Who can I get away with not loving?
Jesus answers by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. Continue reading
As we move in our discussion of nonviolence from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we will start with Matthew 5—the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon begins with a series of blessings that we know as the Beatitudes. In many cases, though, the people who Jesus says will be blessed are the exact opposite of those who seem to be blessed. For instance, “Blessed are those who mourn…”, “Blessed are the persecuted…”, “Blessed are the meek…”, and “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”. Among those who are blessed, Jesus says, are the peacemakers. Not those who use less evil to stop greater evil, but those who actually make peace. With these words and this Sermon, Jesus begins building his Kingdom. But his is an upside down kingdom; a kingdom built not by power, violence and political position, but by mercy, suffering and ultimately love.
At the core of the Sermon, in verses 13-16, Jesus tells us why we are to act and live in a different way. “You are the light of the world…”, Jesus says. As followers of Jesus, we are to look different, to shine out to everyone we come into contact with, so that all men might see God through us. “You are the salt of the earth…”, Jesus says. As followers of Jesus, we are to add a different “taste” to life. We are to preserve it. If we no longer look different than the world, Continue reading