13 February 2007

Luke Interactions

Over the last several weeks as we've returned to our Luke study, I've had some interactions with some of you by email and in-person that dealt with questions or comments you had regarding something I said in a message. Great! They were important enough that I thought I'd share them so that others can benefit. Remember, you can always leave a question or note something by leaving a comment. I'll be sure to reply. Two are noted below.

>>> One of you noted that I had not shared material from Matthew that would have provided more content than the section of Luke we were studying does. The name of our series is "according to Luke." My aim is to communicate Luke's account of Jesus' life and teaching. If Luke did not include material that Matthew does, he does so for a reason. I want to honor that. Occasionally I'll reference what another writer says if it has special bearing, or has a critical aspect that I'd like for us to note while dealing with a teaching. But, beyond that, I'm trying to let Luke speak.

We should note that God thought it valuable to have four different accounts from four different perspectives. We're tempted to think one homogenized account (call it "Mattarklukohn") would be easier to deal with. And, it might. But it also might not be as richly nuanced. Our various accounts give us men of varying personality, background, and ethnicity emphasizing different aspects of Jesus' life and teaching for varying purposes to different audiences. If we had that one blended account, we lose a gospel written just for us--the gentiles Luke writes for.

>>> Another listened to what I said about Jesus' response to various situations (e.g. being struck, having your cloak taken) after the Beatitudes and noted: "Your explanation on Jesus' advice in dealing with unreasonable folks seems a bit odd to me. Almost as if Jesus was suggesting that a well-meaning person should become passive aggressive in the face of adversity." Good observation! Jesus does respond in a manner that transcends the "good" and "bad" choices that are typically our focus. Jesus' response is a transcendent kingdom response which puts love into action. You are right to note that it does have an affect similar to passive-aggressiveness in that it uses your adversary's force or action to your favor--a kind of moral jujitsu. It is not passive aggressive, however, as Jesus doesn't view the person as His adversary. He doesn't aim to beat them. He doesn't seek to look to gain personal advantage. Rather, He looks at them as His neighbor. He aims to love them. He aims to do what is ultimately in their best interest. Jesus' true action in love merely reveals their action for what it is--wrong, inferior, impotent.

A great example of this is when Martin Luther King Jr. advocated nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the struggle for civil rights. Was he being passive aggressive in creating situations in which the authorities would end-up looking so bad as they used fire hoses, police dogs and batons to deal with them? No. He was taking active steps to do what he viewed as right even in the face of evil which sought to oppose it. In that encounter, evil was seen for what it was because Dr. King and his fellow protestors did not respond with evil in return.

An even better example is Jesus on the cross. Despite all the coercive power of the world's kingdoms--power capable of unjustly convicting a man and executing him--Jesus' willingness to die without resistance, and God's vindication of Him in resurrecting Him to life, exposes the nature and deception of that power. They do not stand for good. They cannot ultimately prevail. The situation is not reversed by a battle between the Legions of Rome and the angelic host leading to an outcome that everyone simply has to accept. It is reversed through a loving act of sacrifice that results in a gift offered through an invitation that all are free to accept or reject.

The point is, Jesus was not aggressive in response, but loving. In this, the reality could be exposed and changed.

Thanks for the great interactions people! This is the way the Bible is meant to be studied--in a group of local believers wrestling with its meaning and application. "Spirit of God, guide us into truth!"

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