Kingdom Life Now
Part 3

“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also… “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”
— Matthew 5:39, 43-44 NKJV

 

    In order for you to truly feel the weight of what Jesus just said, remember who He is speaking to and the context of the His message. Jesus is establishing His Kingdom and the ultimate enemy of His listeners are the Romans. They want a violent military overthrow. Jesus says here is how we’re going to conquer Rome… love them. What?!  This was a hard saying for Jesus’ listeners and may be for some of us right now. Jesus is saying to you, you’re living the Kingdom Life Now when… 

Your Spiritual Maturity results in non-violent confrontation of evil and enemy love

    This was revolutionary. This was even offensive. Yet this is what turned the greco roman world upside down and changed the world! This aspect of Jesus’ teachings and movement has inspired many around the world, especially people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi to employ nonviolent resistance within there movements for civil rights and freedom. They were able to effect major change in the world without retaliation, vengeance or force. And if they were both standing here today they would tell you that their greatest inspiration for this was the Lord Jesus, Himself.

    Now lets be clear about what Jesus was saying. He was not calling His followers to place themselves in unnecessary danger. And neither was He calling them to be a doormat or pushover. His was not a call to absolute pacifism. Jesus was teaching in the context of the shame-honor society of the east. He was calling for nonviolent engagement. Listen to this commentary coming from the scholarly research found in the Andrews Study Bible,

…while Jesus is ruling out physical retaliation, he supports other expressions of dealing with evil. To give the person your cloak (an under garment) also is to stand before them naked. To look on a naked person is a shame. Thus, the Christian gently invites the abuser to experience shame for the deed. To insist on going the second mile after you have fulfilled the legal requirement of taking the Roman soldier’s load the first mile is to be in charge. Jesus is teaching an active pacifism.
— Andrews Study Bible Commentary

Jesus is saying do not resist the evil person. Confront them in a nonviolent way. Speak truth to power. But He doesn’t stop there. Jesus wants you to be clear what the goal is.

    Jesus called them to love the people they wanted to overthrow. Jesus called them to enemy love. This was repeated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, were the hero of the story was someone they hated. Jesus was saying for them to love their neighbors which meant everyone. But Jesus wants you to be absolutely clear what He means, so He gets more specific. Jesus says you are to love your enemies. You want to conquer the Romans? Ok. Here’s how we do it. Love them. Do good to them. Oh you may not agree with them. Confront their evil and speak up against injustice, but love them. This was not a call to weakness. This was the greatest call to strength and spiritual maturity. You want to know how deep your love for God goes? Be like your Father in Heaven and love your enemies. Jesus says in verse 45, “…be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” This is why the chapter ends in verse 48 with “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The context there is speaking of spiritual maturity by loving even your enemies, because that is what God is like.

    So be honest with God in your hearts this morning. Who do you consider to be your enemy? Is it the person on your job, in your school, home or neighborhood? Is it the Republican or the Democrat? Is it the liberal Christian or the conservative Christian? Is it the Muslim, the immigrant, the homosexual or the refugee. Jesus says love them. Of course you may not agree with them. You don’t condone their actions. But that doesn’t let you off the hook from loving them. This is a sign of true spiritual maturity. It reveals that the law of love is being written on your heart. It’s revolutionary and catches the attention of the world.

    You see, that day on the mount, Jesus taught His disciples how to live the Kingdom life to clarify the nature of His Kingdom and to challenge false notions of the Messiah’s Kingdom. And He’s looking for you to enter into this kind of Kingdom life now! Disciples that have an unusual blessed state of being that produces an irresistible influence for Christ. Those who allow the law of love to flow from the inside out. Citizens of His Kingdom whose spiritual maturity results in non-violent confrontation of evil and loving their enemies.

    You see God knows what it’s like to love His enemies. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Yet verse 10 says of us sinners, that we “were enemies” of God. Yet when Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, the sins which placed Him there, He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He offers you His forgiveness today. He calls you to receive His grace and enter into the Kingdom Life Now!

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