Here is a patch of smooth air in a turbulent world by Pastor Tim Brown of Calvary Chapel Fremont, CA. Ah, the difference the right words could make if only believed…
In the over-heated rhetoric flowing from the murder of George Floyd and the protests and riots that dominate TV, radio and social media, I’ve allowed myself to lose sight of the words of Jesus— “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
Am I supposed to bless rioters and looters and those who have made me out to be the enemy? What does Jesus say? “Bless those who curse you.”
Am I supposed to bless those who curse me because I don’t see the current crisis in America exactly as they do? What does Jesus say? “Bless those who curse you.”
In the thinking of some, I am all that is wrong with America—I’m white and male and Christian and heterosexual and cis-gendered. In the eyes of many, that description alone makes me a racist and a bigot and a homophobe. They would say, “I don’t need to know you personally to know what your character is like. I just need to know what class you belong to.” To them I say, “I bless you in the name of Jesus!”
The word bless is ‘eulogize’ in the Greek. At funerals, someone (usually a family member) brings the eulogy—a good word about the deceased. When I bless those who curse me or who have made me their enemy, I ask God’s favor on their life for success and well-being. No—not success in wrongdoing and unrighteousness—but success in finding the right way, and coming into the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. It is the opposite of condemning them— “I hope you rot in jail,” or “I hope you rot in hell.” To bless is to release someone from your judgment and, at the same time, it is a prayer asking God to release this person from the bondage and chains of sin. Blessing keeps my heart compassionate, even toward those who hate me; blessing keeps my heart from callousing over with judgment and condemnation.
When I get to the place where I withhold blessing others in the name of Jesus, I am wrong—for I am no longer following the example of Jesus. What greater demonstration of this do we have than when Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, prayed to His Father as His enemies surrounded Him on the cross, cursing, mocking, and hurling abuse. Jesus poured out blessing upon them in His prayer, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Now, He could have said what Isaac said to Esau, “I am plum out of blessings.” And who would have blamed Jesus had He foregone blessing His enemies on the cross. To place Jesus on that cross they had to forego the conventions of a fair trial. Jesus truly was the victim of social injustice and religious bigotry. Their hatred of Jesus justified, in their eyes, the rush to unrighteous judgment and letting a criminal go free and crucifying Christ. And when all the sin of the world, the injustice, the bigotry, when all the hatred and condemnation were poured out on Jesus, from the midst of that pile, from the bottom of that pit, from the pain and shame of the cross came forth words of blessing, “Father, forgive them…”
When I get to the place where I am so angry and lathered up and withhold blessing others in the name of Jesus—I am wrong.
My job isn’t to bring justice—that’s the government’s job; my job is to speak peace in the name of Jesus. The government bears the Sword; the Church bears the Cup of Christ. When the Church puts down the Cup of Christ and takes up the Sword, it has ceased to be the Church. I cannot have the Sword of Justice in one hand and the Cup of Blessing in the other. Does this mean that the Sword is not the best way to deal with some of that we see around us today? Not at all. I rejoice in the Sword—but the Sword isn’t in my hand. The Cup of Christ is in my hand and I bless you in the name of Jesus.
“Bless those who curse you.”
Be blessed, stay healthy and bear the Cup of Christ.