Love him!? Really, Lord?
Yes, our God, in complete contrast to the gods of other religions commands us:
“love your enemies.”
We are looking at the hard sayings of Jesus with the help of Tim Keller. Often, these have been hard sayings because they have been misunderstood, and that misunderstanding has been spread.
For me, the most illuminating part of Keller’s sermon was discovering what Jesus meant when he tells us to “turn the other cheek?”
Malcom X, who believed that revolution could not happen without violence, felt Jesus was saying that when physically violated, the black man should just lay down and take it. He disagreed with that, saying:
Keller makes it very clear that is not what Jesus is saying.
First of all, Keller makes a good case that a slap on a cheek is not so much an act of physical violence, but an insult. If this was primarily a physical attack, that is not the part of the body you would choose if you really wanted to hurt someone.
A slap on the cheek is an insult to your honor.
And how are we to react? He says Jesus says to be both tough and tender. We’ll look at the context of “love your enemies” from Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll look at Micah 6:8 which could be seen as the Sermon on the Mount in a nutshell:
We are to love both justice and mercy. When “slapped” we should not react as the world does with venom or violence, but with truth and gentleness.
My favorite example in the whole sermon was when Keller described overhearing an adult woman talking to her father on the telephone. She was quiet for a moment while, it becomes apparent, that her dad had been speaking to her abusively, “slapping her.”
This is how she responded.
“Dad, I cannot allow you to talk that way to me or to Mom. I’ve told you this before, therefore, I’m going to have to hang up on you, right in the middle of your sentence. But I care for you and I love you so I will call you back later.”
Then she quietly hung up.
Keller says that Jesus is saying: “There has to be a spirit in my followers that is very different from what is normal to the human heart.”
What is that spirit? What does it really mean to turn the other cheek?
Before you begin, please pray for God to show you and all of us His truth through His Word, through Keller’s sermon, and through one another. Also, pray we will know how to apply it to our particular life circumstances.
Here is the sermon — it is from Luke 6:20-36, not Matthew, as the text below this link says:
I was so moved by our own Missy’s testimony last week, how often the church has not welcomed her children. Unconcerned for justice! I am excited in future weeks to tell you more of her story. She is living a Micah 6:8 life — and I want us to know more for she is right here with us, and I’m so honored. She’s an example of what Jesus is teaching this week too: we need to be both tough and tender.
Here is a picture of her with just a few of the children she’s taken under her wing, something she has done all her life.
God Hunt Sunday
- How did God show up in your life in this last week? How did you see His risenness in you?
- For what can you give thanks to God for concerning our country — or whatever country you live in?
Monday: The Text – Part I.
3. Read Luke 6:20-23
A. List some ways Jesus is speaking tenderly to His disciples here.
B. Keller says we are not to react to insults with a concern for our own honor but with a concern for justice. How do you see that in verses 22-23?
4. Read Luke 6:24-26
A. List some ways Jesus is speaking roughly to His disciples here.
B. How is He warning them to be concerned for justice for the less fortunate?
C. How might you apply this to your life now?
Tuesday: The Text Part 2.
5. Read Luke 6:27-31
A. How are the commands in verses 27-28 completely contrary to the way the human heart would normally react?
B. How is it that the Christian should be able to have an inner peace when falsely accused?
C. How have you interpreted Luke 6:29 in the past?
6. Read Luke 6:32-36. What are some of the ways we can overcome evil with good according to this passage?
Wednesday: Part 1 of the Sermon: No Venom
7. Listen to the 1st part of the sermon up until Keller says that the followers of Jesus “speak up to injustice without any venom.” On the regular sermon it was at the end of minute 16. Then answer:
A. What particularly stood out to you and why?
B. In Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis said this sets Christianity apart from other religions. How so?
C. How does Micah 6:8 put these commands from The Sermon on The Mount succinctly?
D. Read Job 29:12-14 and describe how Job lived with both toughness and tenderness.
E. How did Jesus respond to insults with both justice and gentleness?
F. How did Paul?
Thursday: Part II of Sermon: Two Normal Reactions to Insults
8. Listen to the two ways, beginning around minute 17 to minute 29 when he says, “I want a relationship here, I’m turning the other cheek.”
A. What is the passive response? How have you done that in the face of insult or injustice?
B. What is the vindictive response? How have you done that?
C. What is the combined response?
If you are familiar with John Gottman’s marriage counseling, you will know that the most reliable predictor of divorce is what he calls “stonewalling.” You are seething inside, your heart rate if off the charts, but you absolutely have given up and are completely quiet on the outside.
9. Christians should behave so differently.
A. What did you learn about a wise response from the conversation Keller heard from the woman on the phone? How did she give her dad a chance to start over on a new footing?
B. Is there a way you could apply this in your personal relationships? What might be a scenario?
C. Why is it not loving to be passive and refuse to rock the boat?
D. Why is forgiving not a wimpy way out, but healthy and loving?
10. Imagine a scenario that has or truly could happen in your life when you speak out against injustice but simultaneously show the person you really care for them.
Friday: Walk Humbly With Your God
11. Listen to the end.
A. What are the problems of not showing mercy, not forgiving.
B. He gives an example of admirable men and women from the Middle Ages. What did he say?
12. The key is to walk humbly with God. How does Keller explain this from Luke?
13. How does Keller bring in the abrasive point that the Bible calls us enemies of God?
14. What else stands out to you?
15. What is your take-a-way and why?