Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus Throws Us A Curve

1 Peter 3:9a

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

Life ChangeIn the Old Testament – we’re told to repay strike for strike. Trying to remove evil from the society – Deuteronomy reads this way. Deuteronomy 19:16–21 – 16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. The idea is – the punishment should fit the crime. Equal response to wrongs done to you or others.

In the Old Testament – our relationship with God was very vertical. Yes – we should compare ourselves with God (vertical) – rather than with each other (horizontal) – but – not everything is black and white – or eye for eye. In the New Testament – our relationship is defined by how we interact with others. Yes – there is still a need to walk the walk – but – walking the walk is not about following a set of rules so much as showing the love of Christ to others.

Jesus reminds us of this teaching from Deuteronomy – but gives it a different – and new twist. Matthew 5:38–42 – 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Jesus’ teaching about turning the other cheek is transformative. It is not an easy teaching.

Peter understands this new stance as suffering for doing good. He calls us to forgive – rather than getting even. It may not be fair – but – it is a higher calling than fairness. 1 Peter 3:8–22 –Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

We are geared – at least many of us – to respond to others in like fashion. If someone does us wrong – we often retaliate in like fashion (an eye for an eye – a tooth for a tooth). Of course – that is only fair! But Jesus takes us beyond fair. I didn’t always understand this truth – still don’t. By nature – I am a black and white person. I see things as right or wrong (and I have done my share of wrong). Jesus calls us to a higher place – a more evolved place – spiritually. Jesus calls us to forgive and to love one another – even our enemies – those who do us wrong. (more on this in future teachings)

Jesus throws us a curve. It would have been for His audience and it is for us today. Peter throws the same curve in today’s passage.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

April 10, 2019 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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