Sermon Summary (2/23/20) “A New Way of Seeing” (Matthew 5:38:48)
When I was in Connecticut, I traveled a lot. I would drive to LaGuardia, catch the 6:00 am shuttle, then the Metro and I’d be in Washington for a 7:00 am meeting. Spend the day in meetings and return at night. One day when the traffic was heavy, I found myself in the middle lane and needed to get over in plenty of time to take the airport exit. As I slid into the right lane I watched the driving in the car behind me carefully. He wasn’t paying attention. When he looked up and saw me he went berserk. He thought I had cut him off. He got along side me, then tried to get in ahead of me. I thought he was going to run me off the road. I feared for my life.
Now I don’t know whether there was ever donkey rage on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, but I think Jesus would have said, “Check out my stories in Matthew 5. You need a new way of seeing.”
Here’s my question of you. Would you feel comfortable for any reason whatsoever running somebody off the road? Would your default position be retaliation, or would you be kind? If the answer is you would turn the other fender, then 2000 years of teaching has made progress in transforming you. You have become the kind of person that wouldn’t do such a thing. When Jesus said, “Turn the other check,” he not only wanted to transform you, but through you, to transform the other guy.
When Jesus said, “Be perfect,” he was saying that over the course of time with the work of the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace that you would become the kind of person that would turn the other cheek, give the shirt of your back, go the extra mile and through you begin the transformation of others. God wants you to be transformed, and he wants you in the transformation business.
God is in the transforming business. We are called to be in the business of transforming others. When we place ourselves in grace, when we say “Yes” to grace, God moves towards his perfection. This coming week, begins Lent. It is a good time to decide how we might let God shape our lives in the coming 40 days. John Wesley suggested the following means of grace:
Gathering in worship: Commit to gather in community.
The Ministry of the Word, read or expounded.
The Supper of the Lord.
Family and prayer
The Study of Scripture: meditating. What if you asked each of the 40 days, What would it mean for me today to go the extra mile?
Fasting or abstinence. Making way for God.
In 1942 a book was released about the Roman soldier that supervised the crucifixion of Jesus then won his Robe in a dice game. It first drove him mad, then in search of healing he followed the footsteps of Jesus he was healed. The stories of Jesus transformed him and in turn many he met. The book was The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. So may the stories of Jesus change us. Amen.