Teetering

The reading for this Sunday, February 20, 2011 is part four of a continuous reading of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5.  In this passage, similar to last week’s, we go a new direction.  The question raised here is about…[drumroll please]…

POWER.

As a college student taking religion courses, I read an ancient book called The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun.  Written in North Africa in 1377, the author/historian observes and makes a range of judgments about societies.  He notes how kingdoms rise and fall, with amazing predictability.  Kingdoms that seem so powerful they could never, ever fail…they too, Khaldun says, will be crushed.

We see the current turnover in the Middle East as an example of the truth of Khaldun’s theory.  Power struggles will, inevitably, create winners and losers.  One will be up, one will be down (and let’s hope and pray that we are mostly on the upside, right?).

Not according to Jesus.  He escapes the endless track of power struggles by exhorting people to not engage in them.  To not show retribution (even if it’s “lawful”), and thereby, to not be a victim either. 

Or, to keep it very simple:  You can’t play teeter-totter with one person. 

You can’t have a tug-of-war with only one participant.

Kingdoms of this world will forever rise and fall.  Power will forever be chased.  Yet this kingdom that Jesus speaks of will never fall.  The power that Jesus wields will never be taken away…for the power Jesus wields is always and forever this: 

sacrificial love.

Lord Jesus, we strive for balance, upward mobility, and power.  You offer sacrificial love instead.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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