“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27-31
In continuing an examination of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain we are led into a reflection on just what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sermon is directed towards the disciples of Jesus. They have been called to follow Jesus to the cross. His teaching which is given to them here will point out just what it means to be a disciple. They are to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Jesus. All of their lives, their relationships, their purpose, will now be centred upon the person and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ross Hastings in his book, “Missional God, Missional Church” writes,
“In sheer grace, again, when the risen Christ comes to them He does not do so with condemnation. He comes instead with outstretched arms and words of shalom upon His lips. How precious was the real presence of Jesus for those disciples–the same yet different Jesus. There was a continuity of identity. He was still fully divine and fully human, yet there was a discontinuity with respect to the nature of the humanity. This picture is a strong encouragement for Christians in Churches that have lost their way missionally because they have lost their centre in Christ. Instead of discussing the glories of the risen Christ, they now squabble over carpet colors and who’s in charge of what and how much money should be given to whom.” (Pages 123 – 124)
For Hastings a Church which has lost its focus upon the crucified and risen Christ has ceased to be a Church. Jesus calls His disciples into a lifestyle of Agape love, which the Scriptures make clear can only be lived in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. That is the way that our mission work is carried out. That is the way that we truly live as the Church in this hostile world. I will be reflecting more upon this in the coming weeks.