March 26, 2019
Matthew 5:11-12a, “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven.”
These verses remind me of something Jesus says later in chapter five, in verse 38-42 called: Law of retaliation
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.” ~ Matthew 5:38-42
I have to say these instructions are difficult to hear. No one likes to be insulted or harassed and then to make it worse we are to let it happen plus turn the other cheek? Honestly, I struggle with this, I personally get very defensive when I feel attacked, or whenever someone else I care about is being attacked. I’m not really much of a fighter, my feelings get hurt easily and I cry relatively easy as well, BUT I can also get mad rather quickly. My voice gets loud and I start talking very quickly, I say things I wish I had said sooner, before they festered and grew under my skin. I think the biggest obstacle is “pride” our own self-preservation of pride. It gets in the way of growth and maturity especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. The “my opinion/belief” is right and yours is wrong, not allowing for differing opinions to coexist. When I think about all the lives that have been lost due to the inability to listen to others, to consider options, to agree to disagree and to choose life and love over hate and brutality it saddens my heart. Many people have died for their faith, for social justice and individual rights to name only a few. People so committed to their cause it cost them everything, everything except the most important, their soul. As believers, no one can take your soul because it is safe with our God.
Our author, Juan Huertas tells us about Óscar Romero in the reading for today. He was a Roman Catholicism Archbishop of El Salvador in the late 1970’s, who was assassinated for speaking out on behalf of the poor. Others that came to mind while reading were Martin Luther King and Gandhi. I was reading some additional stories online and I found a fascinating article I was unaware of and what to share it with you. Many may know it already but just in case you don’t I listed the website below. It is from the bbc, UK Martyrs of the Modern Era, published July 9, 1998. Ten 20th century Christian martyrs have been commemorated with statues at Westminster Abbey in London. The statues were unveiled before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey.
• In 1918, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia was killed by the Bolsheviks.
• Manche Masemola was a Anglican catechumen from South Africa who was killed in 1928 by her parents at the age of 16.
• Maximilian Kolbe was canonised by the Roman Catholic Church after being killed by the Nazis in 1941.
• In 1941, Lucian Tapiede, an Anglican from Papua New Guinea, was killed during the Japanese invasion.
• Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian. killed by the Nazis in 1945.
• Esther John, a Presbyterian evangelist from Pakistan, was allegedly killed by a Muslim fanatic in 1960.
• One of the world’s most famous civil rights activists, Martin Luther King, a baptist, was assassinated in 1969.
• In 1972, Wang Zhiming was killed during the Chinese cultural revolution. He was a pastor and evangelist.
• In 1977, Janani Luwum was assassinated during the rule of Idi Amin, in Uganda, for being an Anglican Archbishop.
• Oscar Romero was a Roman Catholic Archbishop in El Salvado, assassinated in 1980.
When people do what Jesus would do, when we do what Jesus would do, we are living our discipleship and it will not be popular and might cause trouble. Jesus never promised that the life of discipleship would be easy but it is worth it. We may not see the fruition of the seeds we plant but the cultivating we do is laying the groundwork and a firm foundation for the future.
A favorite verse of mine is 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
Juan Huertas closes with words of encouragement to us, “Hold on tight. Lean on the love of God. Continue to do what Jesus does. Do not be discouraged, the world needs to know the salvation of our God.”
I want to say, “Keep up the good fight, Love like Jesus.” The world needs you, you were born with a purpose and a plan!
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Isaiah 14:24, “The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.”
Breath Prayer: O God, give me courage…to love like you.