Imagine if you will, a couple, a man and a woman, winding their way up a mountain trail together, hand-in-hand, doting on one another. The man spies an encroaching bear and jumps out in front of his wife, weapon in hand, and fights the bear off with all his might. He suffers wounds in the confrontation but successfully protects his wife from injury.
Later on down the road the couple sets up camp for the night. The husband, worn down from the fight and hurting from the woulds he sustained falls into a fast, fitful sleep. The wife is dozing off when familiar growls in the distance startle her. She turns to wake her husband but sees him slumbering peacefully. She doesn’t want to interrupt his rest, raise his fear and anxiety level and force him to move his aching body in response to the lurking menace. After all, she reasons, the bear was probably only trying to play around with them in the first place, before her husband overreacted and caused it to become aggressive. The wife perceives no real threat and leaves her husband be and falls asleep at his side.
The description of what follows is too graphic for those with delicate sensitivities. Needless to say, the journey of the couple ends only moments later in a blur of blood and bone. Continue reading
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit 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 benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:30-36 ESV)
Let’s break this meaty passage down and start with a well known verse.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
This phrase is commonly referred to as the golden Rule. It may surprise you to learn that Jesus is not the first person in history to express this sentiment. Many great philosophers and religious men of the past have said very similar things. Some would say that this universal sentiment sums up the heart of the Christian faith, but if it is commonly shared among other faith traditions how is it then a distinctly Christian doctrine? My answer would be to say that it is not at all the central doctrine of Christianity, and if some groups make it so, then they have strayed away from the simplicity of the gospel message. The good news isn’t that we should try to treat others with kindness. We are all sinners who will inevitably fail at this lofty goal. We need redemption from our lack of love toward God and men. God has provided this salvation by giving us his Son, Jesus Christ. Now that is good news! Continue reading