A few years ago I was teaching and had trouble focusing…I felt so distracted, and I began to wonder what was wrong. It wasn’t until I was reading to one of our girls one night (I was reading The Lord of the Rings) that I realized “I can’t read the print in this book!”
So I went to an ophthalmologist and after the exam, she said “Congratulations, you have 20/20 vision!” I asked her, then why am I having trouble reading a book to my daughters? She told me, “Well, you have what we call Presbyopia“—and then she began to explain what it does.
As she was explaining, my mind went active: “Ah…Greek…Presbyopia…” presby = old, elder; opia = eyes. After she finished, I mused outloud “Wait…I have old eyes?!” She nodded.
So, she prescribed some glasses for me and after I got them it was like seeing life in Ultra HD: crisp vision everywhere!
What a gift! I could actually see, drive and read better.
And, what’s true with our physical vision applies to our spiritual and relational lives as well.
If we can’t see God’s purposes for our lives clearly, we set ourselves up to stumble in our relationships throughout life.
So, Jesus taught his followers to give them clarity—really, God’s perspective in relationships, and in every area—to walk through life.
In Luke 6, Jesus describes how to deal with some of the most challenging kinds of relationships:
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (Luke 6:27–36)
Why should we be generous? Why should we love each other? Why do we not look for ways to get back at others? Because that is how God treats us.
Jesus is saying “Get God the Father’s perspective on life: Lift up your eyes and see what God is doing.”
His sun rises and his rain falls on the just and the unjust. And if God is kind, compassionate and generous to even the ungrateful and the wicked, you—be like your heavenly father.
One of the features about our time is to see the problem as “out there…”
- “the problem is the police; the problem is the system; the problem is racism; the problem is our government; the problem is the republicans; the problem is the democrats; the problem is Corporate greed“…it’s always something else.
- If we’re not willing to see that we are at the root of the problem, we will miss what God wants to accomplish through you in our world.
About 100 years ago, the Times of London sent out a question to some of the brightest thinkers of their time. The question was: “What is wrong with the world today?”
One of my favorite authors, Chesterton, responded to the question: What is wrong with the world today? by writing, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, GK Chesterton.
- Change doesn’t start somewhere else, it starts with you.
- The easiest thing in the world is to point out all the problems around us. We live in a broken world, and it’s easy to spot brokenness.
- Instead of pointing out the problem in something or someone else, you be the change.
Here is what Jesus taught his disciples. He said: “If you’re willing to listen—here’s what you do…
- Love your enemies
- Do good those who hate you
- When someone slaps you on one side of your face, offer the other side. (Who does that!?)
- Give to others—especially those who hate you—expecting nothing in return
- When you give something to someone, let it go. Don’t demand it back.
—That’s not natural; it’s supernatural—
You may feel like saying “Jesus, are you asking me to be a doormat and just let people walk over me?”
Jesus clarifies for us: “No—I’m asking you to be like your heavenly father who is generous, kind and compassionate to those who are totally ungrateful and wicked.”
Let’s get personal: Jesus is saying “These are the things your heavenly Father has done for you. Now, as you follow me, pay that forward to others, so you will truly be children of your heavenly Father.”
But let me ask you this question as I finish:
What would happen in your workplace if a couple of people began treating everyone at work this way? Would that change your work place? Yeah: It would transform your workplace relationships.
What if a committed core of people in Tacoma began living this way; treating each other this way? Loving people who are hard to love. Serving people who don’t deserve it.
What Jesus is teaching is nothing short of radical.
“Who lives like this!?”
Imagine what could be if we got ahold of this and began living it out in our city. It would turn Tacoma upside down.
Love your enemies.
Don’t just talk about change—be the change. Lift up your eyes and watch what God begins doing in the lives of the people around you. And it all starts with Christ.
Be watchful; lift up your eyes—see what God is doing—and join your Heavenly Father in it. He is kind and generous to everyone.