Sermon Option: February 24, 2019

January 11th, 2019

Call to Worship

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.” 1 

Preaching Theme

The Lukan text in chapter 6 reminds believers that our faith is an act of resistance. In a time wrought with indifference and when we are divided across numerous social constructs of inhumane historical precedent, practicing unconditional respect and uplift of others is challenging. Verse 27 of Jesus’s sermon transitions from the assurance of blessings to responsibility, to siding with the poor, to the divine imperative of loving enemies. This instructional discourse grounds the Christian ethos. In this text, Jesus is detailing the ways in which God’s priorities, which are antithetical to the ways of the world, should shape our actions.

The purpose of Jesus’s directions for relinquishing material goods or to practice civil disobedience is to challenge systems, that is to say, Empire. The world’s systems, laws, and processes are inherently inhumane and absent of love. Those called of Christ are required to embody and exercise love upon all creation. The narrative notes that love is shown in sacrifice of our stuff and ourselves. This text provides us with a new way of being in relationship with one another. Jesus calls us to respond to others according to God’s love. This means that we must abandon our urge to “get even” in order to respond in a way that shares God’s love and protects our humanity. When Jesus suggests turning the other cheek after being slapped previously, he is not simply challenging antiquity’s “shaming” culture, but encouraging an early exhibition of civil disobedience in the face of dehumanization. 

These actions are representations and expressions of truth in the face of power. Jesus’s teachings, like all kingdom pathos, are antithetical to the world’s assumptions and norms. Democratic, legislative, and social ideals grant allowance for equal or greater response to hurt, harm, or danger if upon an individual or that which they control. When someone mistreats another, it is neither unusual nor unacceptable, across cultures and spaces, to reciprocate such mistreatment. Rather, Christians are called to work in the example of our ultimate ethical witness—Jesus Christ—showing compassion as did the progenitor. 

Secondary Preaching Themes

A hallmark of Wesleyan practice is adherence to doing no harm, doing good, and loving God faithfully. The acrostic poetry of Psalm 37 gives credence to such basic instruction. The psalmist reminds believers not to get upset over the wrong in the world. We live in a world that is defined by competition. We are constantly compared to others, and often we internalize this behavior and begin to measure ourselves in relation to others. We ask why bad people receive good things while we continue to struggle. At times, it is easy to look at others and become angry. Harboring anger and rage serves to be unhealthy; those in relationship with the Lord release themselves and others of such. They are admonished to do so knowing that the wrong, evil, and ungodly will not last always.

Even in our struggle, God shows Godself to be present, powerful, and purposeful. The help of the Lord can come in many ways and forms. Verses 39 and 40 remind us that God is our refuge in the face of uncertainty and wickedness. We must reside in God’s love, allowing it to transform us even in our moments of anger and resentment. While we may never understand why bad things happen to good people, or why it sometimes seems like the wicked are rewarded, God’s love and presence in our life endures. We are comforted knowing that God is always with us, even when we are lost in struggle and confusion. 

Benediction

Unto the God whom we trust

The Son whose example of goodness and love we follow

And to the Holy Spirit who shapes, strengthens, and sustains us: 

Send us forth into this world in love 

Looking onward and upward . . . living to live again!


1. Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2001), 154.

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