Saturday, February 19, 2011

Epiphany 7

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 172nd Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

Epiphany 7
February 20, 2011
Matthew 5:38-48
Living as Children of Light

Lord God, we ask You to keep Your family, the church, always faithful to You that all who learn on the hope of Your promises may gain strength from the power of Your love.”

The basis of Christian ethics is rooted in our relationship to God. “Be holy ... be merciful ... be perfect” as your Father in heaven.

Our behavior reflects the kind of God we have. To believe in and to have a God is to be like him by obeying his commandments and leasing him in word and deed. God does not ask us to be or do more than he is and does. The key verse in this passage is “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven....”

Christians are expected to do more than the Law demands. A Christian’s morality is to far exceed the morality of others: turn the other cheek and go the second mile. It is not enough to hate enemies. Love them with Christian love. What gain do you have if you love only those who love you? A follower of Christ is to be complete and fulfilled just as God is perfect.

As children of light we are called to live as God does.

1. Do not resist evil — vv. 38-42. Eye for Eye “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 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. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

A. Jesus teaches, “Do not resist one who is evil.” This raises a lot of questions. Don’t resist one who attacks you? Who steals from you? Who demands involuntary service? He calls for passive resistance. Not to resist means not to hate, not to fight back, but take whatever is given with patience. It is using moral persuasion.

B. Is there a theological basis for passive resistance? The key to the passage is the nature of God. He does not resist evil, even to the point of the cross. Humanity is to follow his example.

2. Do good to both the good and the bad — vv. 43-47. Love for Enemies “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

A. We are to love our enemies. Is Christ asking too much of us? How can we love those who hate us and hurt us? Love for enemies is not an emotional love. It is agape love, a love for the undeserving and the unlovely. Love is seeing that all people receive justice. It is helping those in need. Why do this?

Again, we do it because of the nature of God. He loves his enemies — He allows the sun to shine on both the good and the bad and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

B. As “sons of the Father,” we treat our opponents as graciously and as generously as we do the faithful ones. If we love our enemies, we will do as God does — he shares his love and blessings upon all, whether enemy or friend.

3. Be perfect — v. 48. God expects all of us to be perfect. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

A. Perfect in holiness and love. Who can be perfect? The word does not mean moral perfection. Since Jesus was the only one who could say, “Which of you convinces Me of sin?” There is no way to reach that goal in this life. “Perfect” means wholeness, maturity, holiness, and fulfillment.

B. Perfect in the sense of fulfillment and purpose. In the biblical sense, a perfect person is one who has completed or fulfilled his life’s purpose. We are to be perfect because God is perfect.

A follower of Christ is to be complete and fulfilled just as God is perfect. As children of light we are called to live as God does.

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