In terms of the ordinary world around us, Jesus sometimes asks too much. Take for example his teaching in today’s Gospel lesson. It is filled with wonderful, idealized thoughts about the Kingdom of God. But who really lives like that? Forgive wrongdoers? Love our enemies? Pray for the welfare of our abusers? ABUSERS? It’s all well and good for an hour of inspiration on Sunday morning, but who really lives like that? This is some of the most straightforward teaching in the Bible, yet it is also among the hardest to hear.
Perhaps we have trouble hearing this word because Jesus never really explains this teaching. He just lays it out there—all of the morality and ethics of God’s Kingdom—and lets his hearers wrestle with it. Apparently, the Kingdom of God is about turning cheeks, and giving to whoever begs, and never expecting loans to be repaid, and being kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. To the ungrateful and wicked! What does Jesus mean by that?
I think he means the Kingdom of God is about turning cheeks, and giving to whoever begs, and never expecting loans to be repaid, and being kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Literally, this is what it’s all about. Such a life seems unrealistic, unattainable, perhaps completely impossible to most believers. And that’s the point. The Kingdom Jesus preached is not built by humans. It is built by love, forged in the furnace of God’s grace. Such a love is unattainable by us, but “what is impossible for humans is possible for God.”