Love Radically

I wonder if people who describe the United States as a Christian nation have read the Sermon on the Mount and thought about the implications for our legal system if we were to take this passage to heart.

justice_640Currently, if you are harmed and you can show that the person who harmed you either did it intentionally or at least reasonably knew you could be harmed, you could sue not only to recoup your actual damages, but also for punitive damages, three times your actual costs, so that they and others would not dare try to cause such harm in the future. Punitive damages exceed that which the Old Testament allowed:

Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return:
fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth;
the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered. — Leviticus 24:19-20

Jesus trashed the idea of getting even. A legal system built on the ideal Jesus expressed in the Sermon on the Mount would put lawyers out of work!

“You have heard that it was said,
‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, ‘Do not resist an evildoer.
But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also …
— Mark 5:38-39

I believe Christ is trying to teach us to live, not relying on secular institutions for our security, but to rely fully on the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ next tough statement could be very difficult to hear, especially on September 11th:

“You have heard that it was said,
‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you,
‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …
— Mark 5:43-44

How will you love your political enemies after the polls close on November 8th?

I will have more to say about Matthew 5:38-48 on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor