In Chapter 6 of Luke, I am struck by the timeliness of the passage:
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31, NRSV).
In light of all that is going on in our world, the form of radical love Jesus is commanding in this passage is needed now more than ever. Mass shootings, extreme bullying, and unbridled political and religious aggression have all created (or are symptoms of) this frightening culture of fear and anger. Not only have we become a country afraid of its own shadow, but we are also strangely afraid of losing what we believe is “ours”. We are retreating into a culture of individualism when what we need now more than ever is the collective love of community. As the cliche goes, we are stronger together than apart.
But there are entire industries (and even political candidates) trying to capitalize on these fears and drive a wedge into communities. Gun manufacturers, insurance companies, and advanced security systems, to name a few, need you to be afraid so you’ll arm and protect yourself against real or imagined fears.
To be clear, there is some value in some of these efforts. But many are tapping in to this heightened paranoia to boost profits. At what expense?
In my view, at the core is a fear of scarcity:
I won’t be safe enough.
I won’t have what is duly “mine”.
If I have less, others will have more and that’s not “fair”
It’s about me me me.
But Jesus’ overarching message is there is nothing to fear. In God you have all you need. Jesus is calling us to a life of radical love and extreme generosity.
Love your enemies.
Give to everyone in need.
Care for your neighbor, don’t fear them.
So how do we actually live this out?
If there are refugees needing asylum, let’s rally together to welcome them and care for them, rather than buying into the fear mongering that one might be dangerous.
If our communities no longer feel safe, let’s compromise on gun control measures rather than draw lines in the sand. But more importantly, let’s have dialogue about ways to dismantle some of these fears so people don’t feel the need to walk around armed like it’s the wild wild west.
If our citizens are becoming increasingly sick, let’s collaborate to find a way for everyone to get the healthcare they need, rather than worrying about our personal taxes going up a few dollars.
This is radical love. It is not easy. And it surely is not comfortable. But the God of Creation has our back. Isn’t that enough?