Love beyond Boundaries

Sunday, February 23

Wim vanKlinken

Wim van Klinken

By Wim van Klinken, director of International Headquarters

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

—Matthew 5:38–41

Unfortunately, over the centuries, many have misinterpreted and even misused these words in Matthew because of a lack of knowledge of the background in which Jesus spoke them. Many have interpreted and used Jesus’ sayings to submissively endure oppression and abuse. Some have even used them to justify submission. Others, finding such an interpretation unacceptable, have answered evil with evil, murder with murder, violence with violence, cheating with cheating.

In Jesus’ times, Roman military code stated soldiers could ask servants to carry for a mile their luggage. However, if a soldier would use them any longer, the soldier would face retribution from his superior. Going another mile was an act of civil disobedience that would bring the oppressor trouble. Similarly, by offering the other cheek and outer coat, Jesus calls for nonviolent resistance.

Knowing the cultural setting, these servants would likely refuse and would put the oppressor in an impossible position. Jesus calls us to go beyond the boundaries of our normal responses and oppose marginalization and oppression in a manner that keeps love and the Worth of All Persons, even our enemies.

Prayer for Peace
God of justice, may we love our “enemies” bravely enough to require of them respect and honor for the worth of all creation. May we not demand from them that which we would not demand of ourselves. May we not stop at minimal acts of love, but go beyond conventional boundaries to love as Christ loved.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. Let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you invited to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion and justice.

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will peacefully resist injustice.

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