God’s way: extend love to everyone

January 20, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45 so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.

As our country remembers the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this week’s GPS is built around six short quotations Dr. King might have used on social media (had it been available in his day) and their Biblical roots.

Reflection Questions

In July of 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. This was a big step toward Dr. King’s goals. He had clearly studied and internalized the “golden rule” Jesus enunciated so clearly in Matthew 7:12. He wrote, concisely, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” *

  • Dr. King preached his last Christmas Eve sermon on December 24, 1967. In it he said: “Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return…. This is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Love your enemies…. I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself…every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear.” ** In what ways has Jesus relieved you of the burden of hating, as he did Dr. King? Is there any area where you want that to happen in 2023?
  • John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, said in Matthew 5:48 Jesus called us to be “perfect in love,” always growing toward loving with God’s all-inclusive love. He rejected the idea that “perfect” meant never sinning (missing the mark). Does it challenge you more, or less, to see “perfect” as about the state of your heart rather than just your outward actions? How might you live (even on social media) with God’s generosity toward the “unrighteous” people you know?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of your peace. Keep teaching me to trust in the long-term power of love, the world-changing power that makes me a follower of Jesus. Amen.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* From https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/197294-letter-from-birmingham-jail.

* “A Christmas Sermon on Peace,” in James M. Washington, ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1986, p. 256.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

As we consider today’s theme, I thought it might be helpful to visit with Archibald N. Emee, founder of a social media app, F.O.E. (Fueling Opposition Endlessly). Their slogan is, “When you are in a war of words, don’t be full of woe, go with F.O.E.!”

DL: Mr. Emee why did you start your app?

Arch N. Emee: Please call me Arch. I was initially inspired by my late Aunt Jezebel’s funeral directions that included a list of people to NOT invite to her funeral. (I had no idea that invitations were sent out for funerals nor did I think those invitations would even be coveted, but oh well.)

DL: I recall the old story of a rival attending a fellow movie producer’s funeral. A guest commented on the large crowd at the funeral. The rival muttered, “Give the people what they want & they’ll always show up.”

Arch N. Emee: Ha. That’s like the story of a lawyer walking into the funeral just as the pastor was starting the eulogy. He whispered to a colleague, “Did I miss anything?” His friend replied, “No. They just opened the defense.”

Anyway, I then read an article about political leaders on both sides of the aisle that kept detailed lists of their enemies. I thought there is a huge untapped market to help people create, organize, & employ their own lists of enemies.

DL: What qualifies someone to get on an enemy list?

Arch N. Emee: Oh it’s entirely up to the host. It could be anything from not reciprocating a dinner invitation to having the audacity to hold a contrarian position on some hot-button issue to not promptly liking a post on social media. It is truly amazing how even the slightest of slights can get someone classified as an “enemy.”

DL: You’ve mentioned an upgrade for your members. What is it?

Arch N. Emee: We realized that just creating a list is kind of passive – a “one & done” type of application. So, we wanted something much more interactive & useful. Think about it: We’ve all thought of a super vicious zinger or rebuttal to someone’s social media post or email, but it came too late to be useful. So, we created an Artificial Intelligence bot that will allow you to respond within seconds with a powerfully snarky roast.

DL: Like when Winston Churchill was in a heated debate with a female counterpart & she said, “If you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.” To which Churchill responded, “Madam, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.”

Arch N. Emee: Exactly. Or the 2 actresses clashing over an autobiography: “Your autobiography was so intelligently written. Who wrote it for you?” The other actress replied, “I’m so glad you liked it. Who read it to you?”

DL: While I can easily understand the popularity of your app, it doesn’t really sync up with Jesus’ teachings that were echoed by Dr. King.

Arch N. Emee: With the vicious attacks Dr. King endured physically or the vandalism inflicted on his property or the fact his own government was trying to discredit him, Dr. King, of all people, would have been completely justified in creating an Enemies List. Yet, surprisingly, he’s the one emphatically preaching to love your enemies. Amazing.

DL: Perhaps Dr. King realized that Jesus was right. This constant back & forth bickering & zinging is not going to move any conversations forward. It’s just stuck in “insult-mode” where no one is going to change their mind & no progress is going to be made. It’d be sad to spend thousands of dollars on a new phone, laptop, & iPad just to waste so much time mindlessly sending a chain of brickbats instead of seeking a wiser more productive path forward. Perhaps we would do better to follow the ancient proverb, “Tweet others as you want to be tweeted.”

Arch N. Emee: Ancient proverb? I’m not sure about that. You know, I have worried that what if 2 of our clients are both using our AI bot at the same time? It’d just go back & forth automatically zinging each other into infinity. Both clients would look so foolish as folks would just say, “Goodness. Are they still at it?”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I was given 2 tickets to the new musical, “Hatfields & McCoys.” The show’s producer, whom I had harshly criticized in the past, sent them to me with the note, “Here are 2 tickets to opening night. Take a friend. If you have one.” I responded, “I can’t make opening night. But I’d love to go the second night. If you have one.”

DL: (Sigh.) Thanks for your time.