Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Sermon on the Mount 9: Reverse Polarity

Scripture: Matthew 5: 43-48

Focus: He sends His rain

Reflection: Continuing from His previous thoughts on Social Judo, Jesus takes it one step further. It is one thing not to resist, which is what he lead with in the previous section. It is quite another to love someone who hurts you. Again, Jesus is interested in more than correct behavior; He goes to the heart and the soul. He is not about mere behavior modification; He is about soul transformation. He wants more than people who do good things; He wants good people.

How does evil spread? One of the ways that the flow of evil happens in this world is through people’s interpretation injustice. What is the meaning of being wronged? What rights do I have when I am wronged? In general, an equal response is justified. Jesus has just said to try doing something different. Now he is saying let it mean something different. Interpret injustice as a cause for love.


In short, two things happen when a person commits injustice to another. One thing is the injustice itself. One person takes something that belongs to someone else and thus the person has experienced a loss not of their own doing, but by the will of another. The other thing is the lesson of injustice. The victim just learned the power of injustice. They now must choose whether the put into practice the lesson just learned.

The obvious person to direct this new learning toward is the one who taught it to them – their enemy. If anyone deserves a dose of injustice, it is my enemy. In fact, if I give my enemy a dose of injustice, I can probably get away with calling it justice.

When this rationale enters into play, then there is the means by which evil is spread. Receiving injustice is interpreted as a cause to perpetuate it.

Jesus says, reverse the polarity. Interpret it differently. When injustice is directed toward you, then interpret it as a cause to spread love. Interpret it as a cause to be kind. Evil cannot spread when its presence is interpreted as a reason and a cause to do good. Jesus knows that all evil needs is to be legitimated in order to spread. When evil gets an OK from anyone, it can spread to anyone.

Jesus knows that you can’t stop anyone else’s evil, but you can stop your own. How would a person identify and become aware of their own evil? The quickest way is to identify an enemy and take inventory of how you think, feel and behave toward that person or group. Then compare that to how you think, feel and behave toward the people you love the most. If that were not hard enough, Jesus says to think, feel, and behave toward the people you identified as enemies in the same way you think, feel, and behave toward the people you love most.

Then he goes one step further – love them.

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