Sermon Reflection from Sunday, February 24, 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Kelley Dial.
From the Old Testament story of Joseph being reunited with his brothers to Jesus' "contrary to our nature" instructions in Luke, we receive an invitation and encouragement to engage in acts that are not easy - not one bit.
We are reminded by the words of our Savior that it is easy to love those who love us, to be kind to those who return the favor, to lend our treasure to a good credit risk. We do those things as part of our nature, with no need for divine guidance. While Jesus certainly does not tell us to forsake those dear to us, he does urge us to go further, to stretch our hearts and souls to care and pray for those we do not like, those we don't know well, and, most importantly, for those who have caused us pain - no matter how deep the wounds they've inflicted on us.
We do require help from above to accept this invitation. Turning the other cheek is not natural. Forgiveness and mercy to those who have caused us actual harm is not our natural instinct, particularly if those individuals do not regret their actions. Why then should we do it? Jesus tells us to treat others as we wish to be treated, not just by our fellow mortals, but by God. Consider the ways our own individual actions hurt the heart of God, how our Maker is pained by our callousness, our arrogance, our judgmental nature. We covet forgiveness, understanding, and abiding love from God, He sends that without regard to the magnitude of our sins, mistakes, and shortcomings. And, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Luke, ultimately, the "measure you give will be the measure you get back".
Love and forgiveness are high intensity training for the soul; the results will make you strong and give you ultimate peace. "Life is imperfect. People are imperfect. Love is the perfect response" - Kristi Nelson.