A Daily Dose of Good News
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
After 10:30am today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/koIJsntfjC8
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20210105
Additionally, if you’d like to talk about this Daily Dose of Good News further, or previous ones, have questions, or additional thoughts, please feel free to email me at . I’d love to interactively engage with you about them.
Good morning! It is January 5 and it’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News and this is going to be a little bit tricky today. I’m going to do something that is… I don’t know if I can do it, we’ll see if I can figure out how to do this. In the lectionary, we have multiple options we can look at for these Daily Doses of Good News. So I’m going to highlight one text, from the list of options, and I’m going to bring in some pieces from one of the other texts, to help supplement that. So I hope that’s not too confusing! (Laughs). We’ll give it a go. So, the text we’re going to focus on is from Luke 6:27-31.
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 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.
Here ends the reading.
Now you might understand why I’m saying this might be kind of tricky. First off, I think it’s really important to simply state: Am I advocating that the Bible says to stay in abusive relationships? No. So, I hope that is crystal clear. If you are in any sort of abusive relationship, whether that is emotionally abusive, physically abusive, sexually abusive, whatever kind of abuse it might be described as, that is not a place that God asks you to stay. Or remain. God, as you know, is a God who is against bondage. Who is against slavery. God is against abuse. God called the Israelites out of Israel because they were slaves there, they were in bondage there, they were abused there. God said: You don’t have to stay here. I’m calling you out of this. OK? So, first off I want to lay that as groundwork for this passage for context. OK?
Which may lead you to an obvious second question of: What are they talking about here though? They say directly, it says directly in this passage, and Jesus is the one saying it: 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… do not withhold even your shirt… if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. So, what is the meaning of this text? I think the meaning of this text, is Jesus trying to help the person who is persecuted, not remain in turmoil, by fighting against the persecutor. OK? If someone is going to abuse you, you’re not going to convince them to do otherwise. If someone is going to take from you, you are not going to be able to rationally convince them not to do that. And every time you try to combat that type of behavior- with fighting against it- it is going to leave that person in perpetual turmoil and strife and battling. It is not a place of peace. What I hear in this text, is Jesus offering and pointing to a way that the person involved can remain in peace, in alignment with God, no matter the circumstances. So what do you do? You pray. You don’t fight against. You don’t withhold. You don’t strike them back. OK? You’re treating them- the last verses “do to others as you would have them do to you”-so no matter the circumstances, God calls you to do to others as you would have them do to you. You have to elevate to make a higher choice. To remain on a spiritual dimension with that. OK?
Knowing that, and this is where I want to switch to the other text of Proverbs 22. Knowing that God is your ally,protector, defender and that God is more than capable of handling your situation. So there’s a component of: rather than you taking the reins into your own hands and trying to mete out justice, or balance it, or even the scales, or battle against it- to recognize that is God’s job to do. And you don’t have to put yourself in turmoil as you battle against it. Your job is to remain in alignment with God and connect with God through your circumstances. Let God handle the situation. Now, that doesn’t mean that you do nothing. OK? For example I would say in any sort of abusive relationship, one thing that I think is very important to do (and it’s one of the things I was taught when I was doing social work in grad school), is you want to have people strengthen their support systems. I used to work with abused families- back in the day before I had kids. One of the things that is often prevalent is people are isolated and alone. That may be worth thinking about during this pandemic time- people are more vulnerable to abusive situations right now, because people are more isolated right now. So it’s a good reminder, I think for all of us, to connect with each other. Because people who are in abusive relationships, they often lack a strong support system. Often if you are in an abusive relationship, that support system helps give traction and support to pulling out of that relationship. OK? Because you have other relationships that are nurturing and feed you. So a little quick side note.
But the Proverbs piece, I think is a nice addition to add to that component from Luke. So I’m going to read a couple of pieces from the beginning of Proverbs chapter 22. “The clever see danger and hide but the simple go on and suffer for it”. I think that’s what Jesus is talking about in Luke. When you try to battle against abusive behavior, you’re going to suffer for it. It would be more clever to just do things to hide from increasing that tension, from exacerbating the situation, from elevating that situation. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. And then continuing on, “whoever sows injustice will reap calamity and the rod of anger will fail”. I think that is affirming. To realize when there is injustice, they’re going to reap that. Knowing that God is the one who will cause that to happen, takes the responsibility off of our own shoulders that we have to mete out the justice. We don’t. We can just rest and be in peace. Stay in alignment with God. Following God’s light and God’s wisdom- even in difficult situations. Knowing that God will handle the justice portion. Our call is to be treating people the way we would be treated, the way God calls us to treat one another.
So, it’s tricky. I hope it makes sense. Again as we write on all of the written versions of the Daily Dose of Good News, we’d love to talk about it. So if you hear this, and you’re like “okay this still confuses me” or “Sara, I think you’re wrong” or “I disagree with this wholeheartedly” or “I don’t understand this piece”- email me. OK? I’m happy to talk more about it, I’d love to talk more about it. I’d like to have it be interactive in whatever way is helpful and good. I have no problems with people emailing me and saying “I disagree” or “I don’t understand” or whatever. Let’s have a conversation about it. So, if you want to email me, email me. I think you all know how to do that:. Like I said, this is a tricky one.
I hope I’ve conveyed the point the way I’m trying to. I’m trying to convey that your God has you. Your God loves you. And your God calls you to a place of peace even in the midst of difficult situations. Your God has your back and you can trust that your God does. So, enjoy the day everybody. If you are not in a situation that is abusive or difficult or whatever, think of who you can reach out to, who might be isolated. Because you don’t always know people’s situations and they don’t always tell it. OK? So think about somebody you can reach to today- who might be on your mind and heart. Ask God to put somebody in your head to reach out to today to love and support. Have a great day everybody. Bye-bye.