Love

The life principles Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Plain, like those in the Sermon on the Mount, are contrary to human nature.
So why did He bother? Why did Jesus lay out a lifestyle that simply is not in us to do? These things go against human nature, so how can they be correct? Who can live this way, loving enemies, carelessly lending, turning stricken cheeks, forgiving those who wrong us, and loving those who hate us? This things fatally conflict with human nature, so what is the point?

Fallen from Grace
The truth is, we weren’t created this way. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, free from evil and full of love, selfless, not selfish, peaceful not violent, trustworthy not devious. As the old catechism says, “In Adam’s fall we sinned all.” We are fallen creatures, from the best of us who by nature are thoughtful and kind to the worst of us who have no sense of right and wrong whatsoever, we are all fallen from the primordial perfection of Eden.

Need evidence? Look at the world. Progress only comes when evil is restrained, not the evil in the atmosphere, or in the environment, but the evil our hearts. We need

  • laws and law enforcement,
  • governments and governors,
  • civility and civilization,
  • rules and regulations,
  • judges and justice, and we need
  • restricted licenses and regulated speed limits just to keep us from running over each other.

So, why these impossible Beatitudes?
Because Jesus came to change us, to restore us to a state of grace. Through His forgiveness and by the power of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in us, we can become new creatures, born again, buried with Christ in baptism and raised to newness of life.

  • Instead of laws forced on us from outside, we can have the Word of God written into our hearts.
  • Instead of external rulers leading through fear and intimidation, we have the King of Peace ruling in our hearts.
  • We have true holiness inside of us, the peace and order of the Kingdom of God.
  • Having been forgiven, we now walk in the forgiveness of others without thought of revenge or retribution—civility from within.
  • We have the wisdom of the Word inside us prompting us at every opportunity to do the right and beneficial thing.
  • Instead of running over each other, we can love one another.

We can only live this way with Christ in our hearts and that is what it means to walk the Path of Life.

The Golden Rule and Beyond
These famous commands of Jesus remain a lofty, unattainable goal until we give our hearts to Him and He takes up residence there. Then the Holy Spirit empowers us to live this amazing life of love. As we do, we live out the Jesus Story every minute of every day. We do this in the name of Jesus for we also are children of the Most High,

“For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

Therefore we can be merciful and loving refusing to judge others, but forgiving just as we have been forgiven.

Not for the Blind
No amount of human goodwill or superhuman discipline can create and sustain this life; it can only be done by the presence of the love of God within us. This gives spiritual vision to us and to those who follow to keep us all out of the ditch.

Scriptures:
Luke: 6:27-42

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank for my new life! I Thank You that old things are passing away and all is becoming new! Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to abide in my heart. He makes You so real to me and so close. He empowers me to live the life You desire for me to live. Thank You for the restraint of the Spirit also, holding me back from any indulgence of my old nature. Thank You for writing Your Word into my heart and giving the vision to see things clearly. As I follow You today, may others follow me and find You! Amen.

Song:
Let the Peace of Christ Rule in Your Heart

Words and Music: Denny Cagle

Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
And whatever you do in word or deed,
Do it all in the name of the Lord.

Giving thanks, giving thanks,
to God through Christ the Lord.
Giving thanks, giving thanks,
to God through Christ the Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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