Luke: Kingdom Living (Part 3)-05/21/17

Sermon Series: ‘Encountering Jesus’

Message: ‘Kingdom Living’ pt.2                       Text: Luke 6:12-49

Introduction: This morning we’re going to sing a duet, you and I.

Here’s what I want you to sing.

  • Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga.
    Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga.
    Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga.
    Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga.

I sing this:

  • I can’t stop this feeling deep inside of me.
    Girl, you just don’t realize what you do to me. I’m hooked on a feeling. I’m high on believing, that you’re in love with me.

Many of you remember that song.

  • BJ Thomas sang it in 1968.
  • And later in 1974, this version was a hit by Blue Suede.

I can’t stop this feeling deep inside of me. Have you ever told someone that you fell in love? It’s a statement full of warm fuzzies. But…

  • It sounds like I’m walking with a girl, when all of a sudden, I trip and accidentally start loving her.

Which reminds me of another song. Hank Williams in 1951, Elvis in ‘59 and Linda Ronstadt in ‘74  among many others, sang their version of a song called ‘I Can’t Help It.’ It goes something like this:

  • Today I passed you on the street. And my heart fell at your feet. I can’t help it if I’m still in love with you.

We seem to think that love is… uncontrollable. But… is that true? Jesus, speaking to His disciples tells them:

  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)

Love, Christian, is a matter of choice. If love was just a feeling, it could not be commanded. But since God’s Word says it’s a choice, not only can it be commanded, it can be obeyed.

That’s what Jesus will talk about in our text this morning.

  • Love… not just those who love you, who are love-able.
  • But love those who don’t love you.
  • In fact, love those who hate you, love those who are to you, un-love-able.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 6:27 where we’ll continue our examination of Jesus’ ethics of Kingdom Living.

  1. Luke 6:27-35 Kingdom Ethics: Love

Read: Luke 6:27-35

There’s perhaps no commandment of Jesus that has caused so much debate as His command to love your enemies. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would I love my enemy? After all, they’re my enemy for a reason.

  • They’ve hurt me, lied to me, slandered me, cheated me, betrayed me, or they’re trying to kill me of someone I love.

Why would I show them love when they’ve shown no love to me? That’s what you’re all thinking… am I right?

Folks, I don’t have any answers for you. It’s beyond me because I struggle with this too. But, that’s the point. Jesus’ command to love our enemy, is beyond all of us. We can’t do it. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • But honestly? It doesn’t have to make sense.

What we need to factor into all of this is that God’s ways are not our ways. God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, said:

  • For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8–9)

So, what are God’s thoughts and ways concerning loving our enemy? Let’s go back and take a closer look.

  1. Luke 6:27-31 When and how to love

Read: Luke 6:27-31

A little back story: In Leviticus 19:18 we read this: You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

The Jewish religious leaders interpreted this to mean Israel was to love only those who were Israelites.

  • Neighbor, to them, meant another Israelite.
  • And by inference, they taught that they should hate everyone who is not their neighbor, who is not an Israelite, in other words…their enemy.

In Exodus 21:23-24 we find: But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot

The Jewish religious leaders believed that text gave them the right for vengeance and hatred of those they considered their enemy.

But there’s a problem with the religious leaders inferences and interpretations of those texts.

 First, God never said anyone who’s not an Israelite, is not your neighbor, and therefore your enemy, so… you can hate them.

  • They jumped to that conclusion. Honestly? Probably because Israel didn’t have too many neighbors who were nice to them.
  • In fact, most were trying to kill or enslave them.

So you can see how their situation led them to  read into what God said and hate anyone who is not an Israelite.

  • But, their situation, no matter how bad it was, didn’t constitute a legitimate reason to infer that God meant all non-Israelites were their enemy and should be hated.

 Second, the eye for an eye rule, is also known by the Latin term: lex talionis.

Lex talionis is the law of retaliation, but, limiting retaliation to an equal penalty.

  • But, here’s the part the religious leaders missed:
  • Lex talionis, Exodus 21:23-24, was not meant for personal relationships, but was intended for matters of the court or legal system.

Now back to the text. That’s why Jesus said But I say to you… In other words, don’t listen to the religious leaders who got it wrong… listen to me.

Jesus, in our text, uses a form of the Greek word agape for love. That should come as no surprise.

  • Remember I said earlier that to love our enemy is beyond us, that we just can’t do it?

That means we need something beyond us, if we’re to have any hope of obeying Jesus’ command to love our enemy. Track with me on this:

Romans 5:5b says: … God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

And in Romans 5:8, 10 we read: God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son

Here we go:

  • The word for love (agape) our enemy in Luke 6:27
  • Is the same word used for the love (agape) that God has poured into our hearts in Romans 5:5
  • And is the same word used for the love (agape) that God had for us when we were His enemy that led Him to send Jesus to die for us in Romans 5:8, 10.

Do you see the connection?

  • Agape, is God’s love; it’s a spiritual, supernatural love that lives in the very heart of God.
  • And by His grace, God has given His love to those who place their faith in Jesus, by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

That means… in Christ, we’re able to love, beyond, our own ability to do so.

So let’s get to a few specifics: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Jesus is saying we need to change not only our attitude but our actions towards those who we consider our enemy.

  • Do good things for them.
  • Go out of your way to be kind to them.
  • Pray… pray for them. Not that a piano falls on their head, but that they would come to know Jesus. Praying for our enemies will change our perspective; we’ll see them as God sees them.

Then Jesus says: To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.

Jesus is saying that as a demonstration of His love, we’re to be willing to suffer loss ourselves, rather than cause someone else to suffer.

Jesus seems to have in mind those who have needs, who come to you, regardless of who they are, and ask you for help. As an act of love (agape) we’re to help them.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Jesus is not saying that we allow people to steal from us or hurt us physically.

  • Remember, Jesus’ Kingdom ethic is about personal relationships,
  • not the lex talionis of legal proceedings, not the eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth of Exodus 21.

In a summary statement, Jesus says: And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. We know that as The Golden Rule. Here’s what He’s saying.

  • Christian, take the initiative in your relationships with others.
  • Go the extra mile. Do good things for them. Bless them. Pray for them. Show compassion for them. Extend to them great grace. Be merciful. And forgive, always forgive.

Let me give you an example God has made, not only a passion for me, but a sense of dire urgency: Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her

  • Husbands… Choose, each morning, and consistently throughout the day, to love your wife.
  • Not just with your heart, but with your very life.
  • Be willing to suffer loss, rather than cause your wife to suffer.

Husbands, this is not God’s suggestion, it’s His command!

  • It’s a huge part of His kingdom ethic.
  • And when obeyed, it will transform your home!

And listen,

  • If we’re not displaying kingdom living in our own homes,
  • We’ll never do it outside our front doors.
  1. Luke 6:32-35 Who to love

Read: Luke 6:32-35

Here Jesus is makings some comparisons.

  • It’s no big deal to love those who love you. Everyone does it, even the unsaved.
  • It’s no big deal to do good things for those who do good things for you. Everyone does it, even the unsaved.
  • It’s no big deal to lend money or things to others if you know they’ll give it back. Everyone does it, even the unsaved.

 

Remember, Kingdom living is counter-cultural, it’s supposed to be different than what everyone else is doing. Instead, live like you’re citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Then Jesus repeats what He said earlier. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return

Be different, live differently, love differently because in Christ, you are different!

And Christian, God notices when you reflect His love to the world around you.

  • Jesus adds a theological dimension to what He’s saying, by making two promises for all who live kingdom ethics.

First promise: Your reward will be great. The Apostle Paul tells us part of what that means:

  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8–9)

Our reward is not only peace, but the powerful, loving presence of God…. every day.

Second promise, You will be sons of the Most High. Scholar F.B. Meyer, a close friend of DL Moody once said:

  • We are made sons by regeneration, through faith in the Son; but we are called to make our calling and election sure – to approve and vindicate our right to that sacred name.

We can only do this by showing in word and act that the divine life and principles animate us. (David Guzik)

Again, this is not a works righteousness.

  • We’re saved by faith in Christ alone, by grace alone, to the glory of God alone.

Loving as Jesus loves, even loving our enemies, is a part of the assurance we have, that we are saved, that we are in Christ.

  • And because we’re in Christ, we are sons and daughters of Almighty God.

 Conclusion: I want you to think about something.

  • Right now, who is the most frustrating person you know?
  • Who is it that wants to see you fail at work or at school?
  • Who is it that just gets under your skin?
  • Who is it in your life that you wish would just go away?

Jesus is telling you… to love them.

1 Corinthians 13:8a says:

  • Love never ends. (ESV)
  • Love never fails (NASB)

Romans 8:35ff says:

  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer asks:

  • Who needs love more than the one who is consumed with hatred for us. Who in other words deserves our love more than our enemy?

Where is love more glorified than where she dwells in the midst of her enemies! (Brian Bell)

If God’s love (agape) is that powerful in our lives, shouldn’t we love others, even our enemies, so that God might do His great work of love in their lives as well?