Which God do you believe in?

I have been reading and meditating on Luke’s gospel in preparation for a preaching series in early 2022.

Today I spent time considering Luke 6v27-38. Shown below in the Message version which I think brings a freshness to the passage.

27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more payback. Live generously.

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

The whole passage is disturbingly straightforward, and because of that challenging, and difficult for us to avoid the direct instructions.

I think the most important verse is

 Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

We are to be the people the passage describes because that is what God is like. God is generous to everyone, he provides good things for all the enjoy, undeserving and deserving. He is incredibly merciful. Is this the God you believe in? It is only when we discover this God, allow the truth of who this God is to overwhelm us, that we will have any chance of making this way of life our own.

This is a list of instructions describing who our God is and the way of life that follows from that. Let us be honest, this has not always been how all Christians have viewed God. For some their God is nothing like the God Jesus describes here. Some seem to believe in a gloomy God, a penny-pinching mean God, or a God who makes life difficult for us. This passage also gives a lie to the fact that all religions are the same, all God’s are not the same. It is so important what God we believe in because how we live flows from that belief. This God, as described by Jesus, is different. Therefore the way of life of his followers is different.

Jesus did these things himself. That is why the crowds gathered. His whole life was one of exuberant generosity, giving all he’d got to give to everyone who needed it. He knew himself the extravagant love of his Father, and the call to live a lavish human life in response. When he was struck on the cheek and had the cloak stripped from his back he kept on loving and forgiving. He didn’t just show love to his friends, he wept over the city that had rejected him. He embodied the God he spoke of.

Is this the God you believe in? If it is then we need to emulate him, following these simple, clear, and direct instructions. We also need to be aware how rare it is to find people living in this way. Which will cause people to take note. However, it all starts with us knowing the character of God as Jesus described and modelled.

 

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