nullEpiphany 7 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 24, 2019
Genesis 45:3-15, 1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42, Luke 6:27-38

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Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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Often you hear the advice to, trust your gut.  Follow your instincts.  Do what comes naturally.  This can, at times, be good advice.  Other times it can be completely wrong.

If you are sailing offshore and encounter bad weather, your gut will tell you to return to port, but experienced sailors know that this is often the worst thing to do.  Experienced sailors will head out to sea to ride out the storm where the water is deep and there are no obstacles to hit.  Trying to sail into port in a storm is dangerous.  Your gut tells you to head for shore, but the best course of action is different.  It is counterintuitive.

During World War II the British Royal Air Force was trying to determine the best places to put armor on their bombers to protect them from gunfire from German fighter planes and anti-aircraft guns.  They studied the bullet hole patterns on the returning bombers and some believed the best idea is to put armor where the most bullet holes were found.  But then someone realized that is not the best idea.  It is better to armor the places without holes, because the holes on the returning bombers showed where a plane could be shot and still stay in the air.  So they armored the planes where there were no holes; counterintuitive, and yet the right way to do it.

When driving in the winter if your car begins to skid and the back end is sliding out to the right, your gut tells you to turn the steering wheel to the left.  But, as you know from driver’s training and experience, that is wrong.  You should turn the wheel to the right; turn into the skid.  The way that comes naturally is not always the right way.  It is not always a good idea to trust your gut.

When someone hurts me, I naturally want to hurt them back.  Growing up, if my brother hit me, I would hit him back…harder.  Eye for an eye.  Tit for tat.  When someone does you wrong you desperately want karma to bite them in the end.  This works for doing good also.  When you do something nice for someone, you want them to do something nice for you.  If I do you a favor, you owe me a favor.  I scratch your back, you scratch mine.  It is the way of the world.

In our Gospel reading today we get some counterintuitive teachings from Jesus.  Jesus tells you not to trust your gut.  Do not do what comes naturally.

            Jesus is teaching you to do things that are completely against your natural inclinations and it cuts to the quick.  It exposes how far short you fall from what God requires.  Jesus’ teaching here demonstrates how needy you are for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Luke 6:27-30 (ESV) 27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.[1]

This is a devastatingly hard teaching.  Love your enemies…Pray for those who abuse you…if they hit you, turn the other cheek and let them hit you again…if they take your jacket, let them strip you naked…give more to those who take from you…be stupidly generous.

Jesus is teaching you to do things that are completely against your natural inclinations and it cuts to the quick.  It exposes how far short you fall from what God requires.  Jesus’ teaching here demonstrates how needy you are for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Ponder for a moment God’s mercy and grace.  How does God give out His mercy?  Does God give out mercy and grace in small quantities?  Does God dispense it with an eye dropper?  “Here is a little tiny drop of grace for you.  Don’t mess it up because that is all you get.  I have forgiven you for that sin six times already.  I’m done.  You are on your own.”  Is that how God treats you?  Is that how God forgives you?  No.  God shows you abundant mercy.  God has forgiven you over and over and over and over again.  God declares you are forgiven, again and again and again.  God is stupidly generous to you with His mercy and grace.  In Jesus’ body and blood broken and shed for you He pours out forgiveness on you over and over and over.  God forgives you in abundance.  And this forgiveness is not easy.  It is not without cost.  It cost Jesus everything on the cross at Calvary.  Jesus was beaten and did not retaliate.  Jesus was stripped and did not complain.  Isaiah 53:5 (ESV) 5 … he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.[2]

Jesus does not seek retribution against those that do Him wrong.  Jesus does not hope that karma comes back to bite those that hurt Him.  Instead, Jesus prays, Luke 23:34 (ESV) 34 … “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” …[3]

Being generously merciful is difficult.  There are sadly few examples in our world to look to.  Learn how to be merciful by seeing how God is merciful to you in Christ Jesus.  Luke 6:36 (ESV) 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. [4]

The idea of karma is not a Christian idea; it comes from Hinduism and Buddhism and it is the idea that you get what you deserve.  Christianity is different; radically different.  In Christianity you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you don’t deserve.  You get mercy and grace.

God gives his mercy and grace lavishly and you are called to also show mercy and grace in abundance.  Your source of strength to love and forgive those who hurt you is God’s love and forgiveness of you.  Do not limit God’s lavish grace.  Do not use a teaspoon to dispense grace so that a teaspoon is all God has to use to give grace to you.  Use a giant bucket, use a bathtub, to give and receive God’s grace.  Luke 6:38 (ESV) 38 …For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”[5]

It is not up to you to judge others and declare that someone is outside of God’s salvation.  Remember who Jesus would eat with when He came into a town; the tax collectors and prostitutes.  It is not your job to pronounce eternal condemnation on anyone.  We can warn about sin, speaking the truth in love, but always as a fellow sinner who also needs the mercy and grace of God.

Love your enemies, do good to all, forgive freely, give generously.  Be very conscious of your own sins so that you are always lovingly sympathetic about others caught up in sin.

The Old Testament account of Joseph meeting his brothers years after, out of jealousy, they sold him into slavery, is one we can learn from.  If Joseph went with the ways of the world; if Joseph went with his gut, he would have taken vicious revenge on his brothers, but instead Joseph sees how God has worked good out of an evil situation and he welcomes his brothers with love.  For those in your life for whom you harbor ill will and hatred, seek guidance from Joseph.  Love your enemies.  Ponder how much God has forgiven you, and pour out that forgiveness on the one who has hurt you.

Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was okay.  It means you will no longer hold it against them; in the same way that God does not hold your sin against you.  Continue to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

As a baptized child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus shed for you on the cross, you are called out of the ways of the world to seek revenge and favors, and are called into God’s way of lavish love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

When dealing with other people don’t trust your gut or go with your instincts.  Instead, bask in God’s extravagant generosity to you and live life in extravagant generosity to others.  Live in God’s love and forgiveness.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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