Sunday, February 9, 2014


The word radical can mean “departing from tradition.” That meaning certainly describes our weather this winter, not only here in the Midwest but almost everywhere else across our nation. Contrary to the spiritual meaning, however, we have no choice but to accept the weather. We can choose to be radical in our Christian faith, though—a faith that departs from the tradition of the world.


Radical love

When a man's honor was at stake during the days of chivalry, he would challenge the offender to a duel. Back then, duels were considered acceptable ways for the offended to get even and avoid humiliation. In Jesus’ day, a slap in the face was considered the ultimate humiliation.

In some ways duels are still being fought today. Teen gangs, for instance, use covert acts of vandalism, theft, or even murder to get even. Whether a sword duel, a violent act of revenge, or a slap in the face, it usually comes from the belief that our reputation is at stake. Many dads teach their sons how to fight back. Moms show their daughters, in other ways, how to stand up for themselves.

Discounting societal laws that rightfully require a law-breaker to be penalized, let's face it—many of us want to get even with an offender. But that mindset is totally contrary to what Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount. He spoke against the old law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Rather, he told us not to resist an evil person. To go even farther than the offender forces us to go. To even turn our other cheek if someone slaps us.   

Is there something wrong with this picture? By worldly standards, it appears upside down. But this kind of love—radical love—looks at offenders through the eyes of Jesus. He sees all of us, victims and offenders alike, with eyes of love. Can we do any differently if we claim to be His followers? 

It's not easy to learn such a mindset. It requires being in such close relationship with Jesus that He will change our hearts so we can see everyone, good and evil alike, with the eyes of love.

Besides Jesus' perfect example of loving His enemies rather than turning on them with vengeance, we have the example of Stephen. One of the early Christian Church leaders, Stephen spoke God’s truth to the hard-hearted Pharisees and Jewish leaders. They rejected his words and stoned him. Yet, he pleaded to God, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60)

Such examples are hard acts to follow. But with God's help, by prayer and through faith in His Word, we too can love friends and enemies alike with the love of Jesus.

Lord, give us strength to turn the other cheek. Give us forgiving hearts. In Jesus' name, amen.

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