Connected in Christ: Extreme Forgiveness

Focus Passage: Luke 6:27-38

How would you define extreme love? Is such love defined by a man rescuing someone from a burning building? Is it a young girl raising thousands of dollars to cure cancer? These people are different and we respect them for what they have done. Yet Jesus defines it as a radical way of life that we can all embrace.

For Jesus, it was the  extreme forgiveness that sets some Christians apart from the world around us. It is a love that others can recognize right away by the way that these people treat others and live out their relationships. You can have that kind of extreme love, Jesus will tell show you what it means and will help you to live it out. Jesus mentions three elements of such extreme forgiveness.

Extreme love v. 27 Jesus is really radical. He wants you to love your enemies as well as your friends. In a world where we teach people to defend themselves, he wants us to love everyone. His love is not selective. His love says to see the value in every person we meet. It is a choice that we must make whether it is saying nice things about a harsh boss or being kind to the neighbor who likes to complain about our kids or dogs. Jesus is saying that we should love others and show we belong to God.

Extreme mercy v.29a What if the world hurts us as we try to love them. Jesus says that we should not hit them back. Don’t go over to the “dark side” if the Darth Vader’s of the world attack. So what do we do when the world does hurt us? Can you believe that Jesus is telling you to not hit back? Forgiveness is letting go. It is refusing to be sucked into the world’s concept of an eye for an eye. Refusing to hit back is the way to break out of the downward cycle. Show them God’s light when they are dark.

Extreme generosity v.29b Now Jesus takes it one step further. Forgive if someone takes your property as well. We often want to fight to the death to save our stuff. Jesus has a different way, a radical way – let them have it. It is only property. We should not be so attached to our property that we would sacrifice ourselves to get it back. Trust God to provide for your needs and don’t let things destroy your life. Let them have the things of life so you can keep your soul and your values.

How is it possible to be that generous? v.37 It goes against everything that we have been taught. It is only possible for those who live in the shadow of the cross and its forgiveness. We have been forgiven and have felt the freedom that the cross gives to us. We never want to go back to the greedy and grubbing ways of the world. We never want to go to the dark side and become so wrapped up in trying to make things even or gain the other hand. We would have to give up to much to gain so little.

Jesus was more radical than most of us give Him credit. Just stop and listen to what He is saying. He is telling us to do nothing when we are wronged, but offer love and forgiveness instead of the hate. He wants us to create cycles of good that lift people up instead of cycles of hatred that just spiral downward.  Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where people watched out for one another and shared so that every person was cared for? Pray for people who are filled with anger and hatred. Bring their hurts and pains to the cross so that Jesus can bear the sin and overcome the dark side. Yes, that is extreme, but it is the love of Jesus and we can only love like that if Jesus is in our hearts and lives.