Today is Transfiguration Sunday. It is an important day in the Christian calendar. We studied it, this week, in our Bible Study, but for everyone we’ll give you a brief introduction into what this day is about.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe what took place on either Mount Tabor (near the Jezreel Valley) or Mount Hermon (in the Golan Heights). The event is where Jesus’ appearance was magnified before Peter, James, and John and they were able to see the fullness of his divinity. It comes after Peter confessed Jesus as the long-expected Christ, Savior, near Caesarea Philippi and serves as a pivot point in the gospels. From this point forward, Jesus is solely focused on the cross and resurrection that will take place in Jerusalem.
Before they leave the mountaintop, though, there is a voice that comes from a cloud. It is the voice of the Father. In a scene like what took place at Jesus’ baptism, but this time for all to hear, the Father identifies Jesus as God’s son. The voice also says, “listen to him.”
To listen is a command of obedience. To listen is to do more than just be quiet and hear what someone is saying. To listen means to hear what is being shared and apply it into your life. To listen to Jesus means to not just hear what he says, but to put into practice his very teaching.
We might understand that, but there is no place where we have more trouble listening to Jesus than what Christ teaches in Matthew 5:43-48. Once again on the shores of Galilee, Jesus speaks to the disciples and gathered crowd. He calls those who would follow him to do something that is, both then and now, challenging. He calls those who would follow him – seek to walk with the Lord – to love their enemies. Continue reading “Yes, Love Your Enemies”
This morning, my devotional reading took me to one of the most challenging passages of Scripture. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus invites those who seek to follow him to love our enemies and to pray for them.
It is a word that is as uncomfortable as it is challenging. No one is naturally inclined to love their enemies. No one really wants to even pray for them. Our natural inclination is to despise our enemies. We don’t want to show love or concern for them. Yet, Jesus calls us to the deeper and more difficult way of life that sees our enemy as our neighbor and calls us to see them as a child of God created in God’s very image.
That is hard to do. Many have reflected on how this passage calls us to care for the personal enemies in our lives, those people who just seem to get in our way or make life difficult for us. We’ve also reflected on how this passage calls us to find ways to pray for those who would do us harm. None of those things are easy, but it is the way of Christ who showed what this looks like when he prayed for those who crucified him on the cross. Continue reading “What if We Prayed for the “Other” Political Party?”
We live in difficult and challenging times. Everyday we are bombarded with images and news stories that remind us that the world that we live in has become unfamiliar to so many of us. We live in a time that is filled with disagreement, frustrations, violence, and pain. Much of these things we have experienced, not only on a personal level, but also on a societal and cultural level.
Part of the reason for this is that what we so often focus on are our differences. We live in a time of political polarization that, for more than 25 years, has created deep divisions within our culture based upon the ideas we hold dear. We live in a time in which racial, cultural, economic, and geographical differences continue to be boundaries that prevent true relationships. Even within our churches, our theological perspectives, worship traditions, and other practices sometimes prevent us from working together as one body in Christ’s love. We live in challenging times that are unlike any that we have known in our lifetimes. Continue reading “Fan or Follower: Followers Love All People”
December 17, 2010, Third Friday in Advent Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ … Continue reading Advent Devotional for December 17