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Epiphany 7
Series C

"Gifts For Your Enemies"
Luke 6:27-38

 Option 1: Rev. Kelly Bedard

 A. Cosmetic Goodness

   1. Sensual love: thinking or feeling good things

   2. Passive, reactive and/or reciprocal

 B. Cosmic Goodness

   1. Non-sensual love: doing good things

   2. Proactive: confronting and converting negative energy

Notes:

1. echthros (enemy), verse 27: used of people who are at enmity with God by their sin

2. "Jesus' message was not do not stone people, do not cast them out, do not write them off. His target was punitive self-righteousness." (Jean Bethke-Elshtain)

3. "Be nice to the enemy long enough and the enemy will become a friend." (Homiletics, February 1995)

4. "It is a Marine Corps tradition not to leave dead Marines on the battlefield, and Marines have died trying to retrieve those dead. This means that after his training, a young Marine has, without words, taken a vow to offer his life for another Marine. This means, sadly, that the Marine Corps, in a way limited to military action, has in general instilled more love in its members than Christian churches have in theirs. The Marine Corps does this, as all good teachers do, by drawing from a person instincts that are already present and developing them by giving each person the confidence to believe in those instincts, to follow where they lead. A Marine crawling under fire to reach a wounded Marine is performing a sacrament, an action whose essence is love and the giving and receiving of grace." (Andre Dubus, Broken Vessels [Boston: David R. Godine, 1991], 174)

5. Robert Baldridge, North Carolina Annual Conference council director, in his dissertation, "The Reluctant Church," recalled the 1969 British film The Royal Hunt of the Sun. The film tells the story of the infamous Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro and his small expeditionary force as they searched for Incan treasure in South America. As they marched through the mountains of Peru, they came to a chasm spanned by a flimsy rope bridge. Even the bravest in the ranks looked at the swaying bridge, then down at the jagged rocks below and trembled with fear. Pizarro surveyed his troops, all trying to move back from the front ranks. At the rear were the clergy. Pizarro called out, "The church goes first!" and the priests in their robes walked out over the shaky rope bridge. (Arvin R. Luchs, "What Awesome Love," Interpreter, November-December 1993, 7)

6. "The Lord does not say, 'Give everything that is asked' but, 'Give to everyone who asks.'" (Augustine)

7. "The Christian cannot declare a wrong a good deed, but He can forgive it." (William F. Arndt)

8. "What our Lord demands is more than a mere passive attitude, which would consist in not requiting evil with evil; such a negative course is not sufficient. Love must fill the heart toward those who hate and hurt us." (Arndt)

9. "Jesus demands more than nonresistance; one must demonstrate to the enemy a willingness to suffer even more than He inflicts." (Arndt)

10. "Not the mere suffering of evil is pleasing to God, but a loving suffering of evil." (Arndt)

11. We must avoid the literalistic interpretation of this passage and concept which might say, for example, "I shall turn the other cheek, but if I am hit on the chest, I shall retaliate." (Arndt)

12. Another avoidant is the principle of reciprocity: helping others merely because we wish to be helped by Jesus in return. (Arndt)

Rev. Kelly Bedard

Option 2: Rev. Wayne Dobratz

 

“Who's In Charge Here?”
Genesis 45:3-8a; 15

I. Not man, even though sin seems to frustrate God's plans

 A. As Joseph's brothers did in selling him into slavery, Gen. 37:25ff.

 B. This sin embittered Jacob's life and He would not be comforted-Cf. Gen. 37:31ff.

Transition: Sin has done much the same to many of us. But there is hope. C. This sin changed Joseph's life forever, but his faith reminded him that  . . . .

 II. God is in charge

 A. He works good from evil

 1. Joseph endured false accusation, Gen. 39:6-19

 2. Joseph was falsely imprisoned, but was given a leadership position-Cf. Gen. 40:20-23

 B. God had great plans for Joseph-but He still had to wait, even after correctly interpreting two dreams-Gen. 40:1-14

 C. Joseph was called to the King's Court at just the right time-Gen. 41:9ff

 D. Joseph's life finally fulfilled its purpose and He saw God's hand upon his life-Gen. 45:3ff

Transition: Just as a work of needlepoint makes no sense seen from the bottom up, so our lives must be viewed from God's perspective-only then will some seemingly evil things make sense. Joseph learned to  . . .

III. See the Big Picture

 A. Seeing the end from the beginning

 1. We can't make sense of the story until we get near the end, as God reminded Daniel in Dan. 12:9-10, 13.
 
2. As God reminded Elijah in 1 Kings 19:15-18

 B. Trusting God when things appear bleak

 1. As in Rom. 8:28
 
2. Trusting that just as light came after Calvary's darkness, so there will be "joy in the morning-Rom. 8:31ff

Matthew Henry writes:

He very abruptly (as one uneasy till it was out) tells them who He was: I am Joseph, your brother. This would both humble them yet more for their sin in selling him, and would encourage them to hope for kind treatment.

Thus when Christ would convince Paul He said, I am Jesus; and when He would comfort his disciples He said, It is I, be not afraid. This word, at first, startled Joseph's brethren; they started back through fear, or at least stood still astonished; but Joseph called kindly and familiarly to them:

Come near, I pray you. Thus when Christ manifests himself to his people He encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart. Now He tells them how long the famine was likely to last-five years; See what a favorable color He puts upon the injury they had done him: God sent me before you, v. Joseph reckoned that his advancement was not so much designed to save a whole kingdom of Egyptians as to preserve a small family of Israelites: for the Lord's portion is his people; whatever becomes of theirs, they shall be secured.

Providence looks a long way forward, and has a long reach. Even long before the years of plenty, Providence was preparing for the supply of Jacob's house in the years of famine. The psalmist praises God for this (Ps. 105:17): He sent a man before them, even Joseph. God sees his work from the beginning to the end, but we do not. Let us therefore judge nothing before the time.

God often works by contraries. The envy and contention of brethren threaten the ruin of families, yet, in this instance, they prove the occasion of preserving Jacob's family. Joseph could never have been the shepherd and stone of Israel if his brethren had not shot at him, and hated him; even those that had wickedly sold Joseph into Egypt still themselves reaped the benefit of the good God brought out of it; as those that put Christ to death were many of them saved by his death.

v. 4. God must have all the glory of the preserving of his people, by whatever way it is accomplished. It was not you that sent me here, but God, v. 8. As, on the one hand, they must not fret at it, because it ended so well, so on the other hand they must not be proud of it, because it was God's doing, and not theirs. They designed, by selling him into Egypt, to defeat his dreams, but God thereby designed to accomplish them.

Rev. Wayne Dobratz

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