Jesus’ famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is his training program for his disciples; Jesus knew very well what challenges they were going to face; so he prepared them to meet those challenges equipped to represent him, to carry on his mission. We are the current generation of his disciples, carrying on his mission two thousand years later, so we are well-advised to sit at his feet with Peter, Andrew, James and John.
In Matthew 5:38-48 he explains what his followers must do when we encounter evil people, who set out to do us harm, or to take advantage of us.
The 21st century Australian answer is familiar to you: ’Get them back’. ’Give as good as you get’. ’Don’t let them get the better of you’. ’Know your rights, and make sure you get what’s yours and they get what’s coming to them’. ’Don’t get mad, get even’. ’Prove you’re better than them’. Or perhaps: ’Smile at your enemies – it really annoys them’.
Jesus’ answer could not be more counter-cultural, for his day, and for ours. He says, don’t resist an evil person. Don’t only give them what they want, give them even more than they demand – be generous to them! And don’t just be passive in not asserting your rights, not lashing back at the person who tries to hurt you. Jesus says, love them. Sacrifice your own comfort and security to do them good. Pray for them. And even ask God to bless them.
Why should behave that way? Imagine it! People will laugh at us! We’ll lose out, miss out, wimp out! People will take advantage of us! Why on earth should we be kind to people who aren’t kind to us? Jesus says simply that that is what God does. He is generous to everyone, those who love him, and those who hate or ignore him. He provides good things to all people. We are to be like him.
- Katie Peken
Jesus’ disciples – you and I – are to stand out from the crowd. We are to stand out by being completely counter-cultural in how we treat other people; we are to love them the way God does, to do them good, and bearing all the cost ourselves.