St Matthews Digital
What do we mean by?
24 February 2019
Face Slapping 101
Wilf Holt examines Jesus’ teaching on Luke 6:27-38 - love your enemies and turn the other cheek
Rev Wilf Holt
Have You Seen?
04 February 2022
25 December 2021
Living the Story
29 March 2020
Lockdown Video for Lent 5
03 July 2016
St Thomas' Church, Freemans Bay
05 June 2022
21 November 2021
Advent wreath making
07 September 2022
06 March 2022
01 March 2015
Being a prophet
03 September 2017
Unlearning for creation’s sake
Meditation & Prayer
Arts and Music
users can comment on a video.
Face Slapping 101
I'd like to remind you of the last words of last week's sermon.
and I quote, But that is next week's preachers problem.
And as I said this morning, thank you Helen.
Look to be honest, it's pretty clear, isn't it? You've just heard the scripture reading.
All you have to do is just go out and do it. I mean, it's very, very clear. It's a bit like the ten guidelines and the Old Testament. Sorry, the Ten Commandments just do it. Hmm. In preparing this sermon, I quickly came to realize as the numerous commentators that were, at least three sermons worth of material. And today's reading Don't Panic, you won't be listening to me, for some 24 minutes.
First things first love.
Love your enemies.
We need to understand in this context, what love actually means because it's a hard one, isn't it? Love your enemies. There are six kinds of Love encountered in the Bible. The first testament, there are two main Hebrew words that are translated into the English love. The first have is used in a variety of contexts. Very much like our English word, sexual attraction, affectionate feelings between, spouses and lovers.
Parental love for children and children for parents love of places and special food friendship. And finally, God's love for us and the human love for God, a hub is the love of the great commandment love, the Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength and it's the love, your neighbor, as yourself found and Liberty, Leviticus And the second is his Sid is more difficult to translate because embedded in its meaning is the unbreakable, Covenant bond, that God, initiates with Abraham and Sarah and their descendants.
His said that has the feelings of love. Kindness, mercy and affection. But as I said, is primarily defined by that unconditional steadfast, Covenant bond in the New Testament. There are four Greek words that are translated into the English.
Love figlio, Now, commonly associated with Brotherly, Love charity artists, which is often translated as Charity error.
Just associated with sexual desire romance, and of course, Valentine's Day and Agape, which is closely associated with the meaning of the first testament has said, this is with God's unconditional unbreakable Bond of Love, kindness, and mercy. When Jesus quotes the great commandment from Deuteronomy and Leviticus above its arguer pay that is used in the text.
And argue pay is the word used in our text today. Now, in this context, it means a wholehearted, unreserved unconditional desire for the well-being of the other. And in this instance, the antagonist nothing is held back. There is no hesitation no calculation of costs and benefits. No expectation of receiving anything in return, only a total Desiring for the well, Being of the other.
This way met May, well, mean that you may not like the other might oppose some of their behaviors might speak against some of what they stand for. But if you a Gap, a your enemy. And perhaps we should say Agra pay those who hate you the way to express your dislike. And opposition will also always express your total desire for their well-being. When someone does something to us, or say something to us, that is Respect for abusive our responses are often in similar vein.
So often we retaliate and escalate instead of such a response, Jesus teaches that we should somehow pause.
And come up with a response that doesn't return the violence. We need to prevent our all-too-common, reptilian response of fight or run. We need to pause things, take a deep breath as it were, and seek an inventive, non violent response. One that seeks to maintain the Mana and the Dignity of the antagonist. We may well disagree with their actions or words, that doesn't matter.
What matters is the manner in which we respond now. Look, there are many books available on confronting personal violence, the escalating and managing anger. We have at our disposal mini little techniques and micro skills that are consist, that can assist in defusing, an angry situation, the useful. And with practice can make a huge difference.
If we're not careful, however, the use of these skills and techniques can become sort of media devices to preserve the peace or protect ourselves all worthy goals in and of themselves. But the, underlying principle of Agape, is the unreserved desire for the well-being of the other. And a quick fix does not honor that requirement.
So if someone hates you curses you, abusers, you employed. The pause seek a non-violent creative response, a response that will keep you safe from extracting, an eye for an eye.
now, we come to that most difficult passage if anyone strikes you on the cheek offer the other also, We need to step back into history and place ourselves in the culture of Luke, the action, Jesus describes striking.
The cheek was not something that anyone would do. This was the kind of thing only a privileged few could do something that those who are listening to Jesus would have witnessed and possibly experienced. This was done by the master to the servant or slave. It was always On by hitting with the back of the right hand, across the right cheek. The blow was about a certain status and power over the other. This is not about random violence or fighting a friends amongst friends. It is about rank privilege and power and to preserve ones, honor one public standing. It was crucial that everything was done, according to the socially accepted protocol, the slave must have been here At least and facing you without external coercion. You must strike only the right cheek and only with the back of the right hand. Any variation on this would demonstrate that you are not in control and would be a public loss of face.
And here's the track. Now imagine your overlord is just slaps. You on your right cheek and without saying a word you silently, turn your head to expose your left cheek. It appears that you're becoming becoming doubly subversion W, accepting your Masters authority over you.
But you're actually rendering your master powerless by turning your head, turning your head hides, your right cheek and presents your left cheek.
The angle of the head will be such that, the master can see, but cannot strike your left cheek, with the back of his hand. Just turn to each other. I'm not expecting anybody to slap anybody, but but just have a little go at that. The right hand, the back of the right hand, to the right cheek. You got to face each other, you can't do it side on. That's cheating. Come on. You're a slave and your master is talking to you. Well, He's not actually, he's slapping you you're going to be standing pretty rigid facing him. Try it when you get home.
Doing this with public publicly expose the master to shame and ridicule, you would appear to be meek and servile obediently waiting for the second blow but the master would be totally helpless. His only options would be to hit you with the palm of his right hand or use his left hand. And he certainly wouldn't have used his left hand for you all know what the left hand was used for.
For or he could walk away. All three would cause them to lose face.
I think it's an excellent example of a creative non violent response, the same creative responses coven, giving up your shirt when your oppressor asks for your coat.
There are two likely scenarios in which your coat could have been taken away, someone demands your coat and repayment of a debt, you owe your oppressor something. And since you have no land and very little money, your oppressor seeks, your coat. Now, there were very clear restrictions regarding the payment of debts. You could not leave a debt and naked at sundown, no matter what he or she owed it simply was not done. It was against The law. So, Jesus sets up another creative strategy if they ask for your coat. Give them their, she give them your shirt to. He says--. Now, the shirt and this context is the equivalent of our underwear. So to give up your shirt, was to be made. Dedicated, the oppressor will now be forced to deal with this new route new reality. No, no. They might say, I don't want your shirt put it back on.
That might be so disarmed that they'll return your code as well. The other possibility would involve a soldier who just took whatever he wanted. The Roman soldier was often brutal and regard at all, non Romans as fear game when your coat was demanded and you also removed and offered your shirt, you might well be embarrassed, but you were publicly exposed the injustice.
The Injustice of having your coat taken in the first place. Okay? Whilst it would be difficult to imagine this happening on Queen Street today, and I certainly don't recommend it. The case is again made for a different response.
Both examples demonstrate our group, a how to argue pay those who hate us, both a powerful nonviolent creative ways to expose Injustice and hate its this creative excuse me in nonviolent inventiveness that led Martin Luther King jr. To deal down with many of his brothers and sisters before water hoses and snarling police dogs. Many people thought he was crazy.
Only violence can fight violence, they said, but the authorities and the oppressors didn't know what to do with this kind of resistance. They knew the power of violence. They knew the powerlessness of victims, who knew their place, but this was something they hadn't seen before victims. Who refuse to be victims victims who refused to fight back with violence. Victims, who paused and found a creative response.
Many in the past and the present for that matter. Have often viewed these examples, these passages, as examples of Christian passivity.
Well, Pacific Pacific t means doing nothing.
Offering the other cheek offering your underwear is doing something and something. Quite provocative, it risks greater harm and order to make a non verbal statement, which requires the aggressor to take a second and more careful. Look at the one who is being victimized with the possibility of a change in relationship. Perhaps, another way of stating, this is that we will not let the other person, determine our actions.
Instead of reacting we respond in the middle, third of our reading today, we find Jesus starting to turn the screws drilling down deeper into a more complete understanding of the ramifications of argue pay if you love those who love you. So what even Sinners? Love those who love them, even Sinners, do good and lend to those that lend to them, the text makes it clear that in the culture of The Day, The Sinner, Responded by following the rule of reciprocity, love those who love you, lend to those who lend to you Jesus says that won't do anymore. Give not because you will receive the same kind of response when a need yourself.
But rather give without expecting anything in return there is perhaps a higher reciprocity at work here.
I give without regard to reward and kind and the knowledge that God's anger pay God's love for all humans will suffice as with many of our passages today, do not judge is also a much misunderstood teaching Jesus is not saying anything goes, we shouldn't read this as meaning. The church should not speak out on matters, that need to be spoken about. We are clearly called to judge and to choose and to act combat and Justice and oppression, we have a legitimate and moral duty to call out especially when others are too frightened or uncaring to do. So, this is a teaching against the kind of stereotyping that is typically part of the To be way we pigeonhole and stigmatize people who are different than us. This kind of judging labels. Others removes the humanity and leaves us of the moral obligation to treat them as we would any friend or family member.
So quite simply the answer, don't be quick to hate but try to find a way of reconciliation. Don't be quick to punish someone who steals from you but discover why they were stealing and how can we solve that problem? Don't be quick to judge people who big why these people begging and what can be done about it?
Jesus wants to change the way we deal with those who would oppress or to seek to do us harm.
Now, if Jesus were to deliver his sermon today, I wonder what inventive scenarios. He might plan, Possibly the lone man and front of a tank and Tiananmen Square, possibly a Gandhi, whatever examples he chose to give. I would hope that he would speak these to his disciples from the pipe. My buddy Harker,