Love your enemies and do not judge others. Difficult instructions from Jesus in Luke’s gospel, at Chapter 6. But did he mean it literally? Are we to take this completely seriously? Rev. Geoff McKee explains why Christians believe that a change of mind and a change of heart is not only possible but absolutely required through Jesus. He considers why Jesus’ new way requires a change of heart and mind that is extremely challenging but necessary.
Luke 6:27-38 (New International Version)
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In June and July 1921 the small south Wales town of Abertillery was in shock.
Two young schoolgirls had been found murdered and a local fifteen year old adolescent had confessed to the murders and was subsequently jailed for life.
He was too young to be sentenced to death.
The murderer’s name was Harold Jones and, after serving twenty years for his crimes, he was released in 1941. He joined the Merchant Navy and, after the war, changed his name to Harry Stevens. He settled in London, married and had a daughter.
His past remained a secret to his family and friends and the authorities lost contact with him.
He appeared to have successfully begun life again, with a new identity. Certainly, here was a wonderful opportunity for him, having the slate wiped clean, to make a genuine fresh start.
Unfortunately, with the broadcast of a new documentary in January called ‘Dark Son: the Hunt for a Serial Killer’, it would appear that Jones could not leave his terrible past behind. It was possible to change a name but the leopard could not change its spots. I will leave it to you to follow that story up if you wish, it is not for us today.
But the issue of identity and a potential identity crisis is crucial.
We are all given a new identity in Christ Jesus.
We are required to live the new way and so we must be aware of what living that new way looks like – and then we must be determined to live it. [Read more…]