Vox Community Church Logo

Luke Study #59 – Re-Writing The Story

The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 6:27-31 (CEV)

27 This is what I say to all who will listen to me:

Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you. 28 Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, don’t stop that person from slapping you on the other cheek. If someone wants to take your coat, don’t try to keep back your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t ask people to return what they have taken from you. 31 Treat others just as you want to be treated.

Re-Writing The Story

To be very clear: this passage is not telling people who are being abused that they have to stay and keep being abused. If you have experienced or are experiencing abuse at the hands of an individual, please seek help to make sure you and any dependents you have are safe.

Trigger Warning: Today’s study touches on topics of abuse and neglect, and may be difficult content for some to read.

************************

There is a psychology theory called ‘Attachment Theory’ that is primarily interested in what makes a healthy emotional relationship, and what healthy emotional relationships do to allow people to be their best. The basic concept is that to have healthy emotional well being an individual needs to feel safe, known and precious with at least one – but preferably two or more – human beings. To begin with, this is supposed to be your mom or your primary caregiver. When this happens you get emotionally filled up, and are able to extend this care and concern to those around you.

However, because this is a broken world, this often doesn’t work out quite the way we’d hope. Parents aren’t always able to provide all of the emotional responsiveness that kids need. Life happens. Trauma happens. Sometimes abuse and neglect happen.

When that happens, it makes us as humans afraid. Fear is a monster that acts out in all sorts of inappropriate ways. Fear makes people hate. It makes people cruel. It makes people act out with aggression and greed. All of that means that fear tends to create one thing and one thing only: more fear.

There are lots of responses available to fear. We can lash out at the person hating or being cruel or aggressive or greedy. We can hide from them. We can freeze and just allow them to carry on in their behavior to us because we feel powerless to do anything about it. But none of these are terribly effective. And so left unchecked, before too long all of us would be running around acting out of fear and its resulting emotions.

I think that’s a huge part of why Jesus shows up. He knows we can’t get ourselves out of this loop track on our own. He knows that unless we taste what love tastes like, we’ll never have a way out of fear. Unless we experience what its like to be safe, known and precious, we’ll never be able to offer that to anyone else.

But once we’ve tasted love, we have the opportunity and indeed the responsibility to pass that on.

This is the point of today’s passage. Those people who hate and are cruel and act out with aggression and greed – they’re doing it because they’re afraid. It doesn’t mean they have no responsibility for their actions, but if Jesus’ friend John is right when he tells us that the only thing that can get rid of fear is love, then they’re going to need some love before they can choose something better than fear.

I think what Jesus is saying is that we have an opportunity to re-write the story of fear in the lives of those we meet.

When we see fear in the form of hate, we are called to love.

When we see fear in the form of cursing or slander or cruelty, we are called to love (though interestingly in this case, the love we are called to is to pray that God would bless them … this isn’t the same as subjecting ourselves to indefinite cursing, slander or cruelty.)

When we see fear in the form of aggression, we are called to disarm them not with power but with love. (Yet this doesn’t mean we should subject ourselves to a beating or on-going physical abuse.)

When we see fear in the form of greed, we are called to love with open-handed generosity.

When we see fear in another, the response Jesus calls us to is love.

And that’s not because it makes us weak, and it’s not because it makes us special, and it’s not because it makes us holier-than-thou. It’s because love is the only thing that will take a story of fear and re-write it into a story of love … that can then get passed on to the next person, and the next, and the next.Journal Questions:

  1. The first step towards responding in love is receiving love.
  2. Where and how and from whom do you receive love?
  3. When do you feel safe, known and precious?
  4. How can you nurture the place where you experience love, so that you have the love reserves needed to respond when you encounter fear?
  5. Depending on how deep our own fear is and where it is rooted, it can make it harder for some of us to experience and trust the love that’s around us. If you are finding these questions difficult to answer, I would encourage you to get in touch with us for counselling or coaching. There is hope. Love does cast out fear. But it’s love that casts out fear, not trying harder. And love requires relationship. It requires being safe, being known and being treated like you’re precious.

More from Devotionals.