Charles was teaching an adult Sunday School class with about 25 people. The same group had been meeting for several months and had shared many aspects of their fears and joys and challenges of walking with Christ as Savior. It was a class that seemed focused on serving the Lord, willing to make sacrifices.
One Sunday, Charles surprised everyone with a test! Of course there were protests and grumblings. “A test? Where are we, in school again?” He smiled and passed out the papers just the same.
The test was actually not what they thought. Rather than finding out their knowledge of what he’d been teaching, it challenged the depth of their faith, forcing every person to face their “true life” walk with Christ. At the end of the test he included Luke 6:27-38 followed by this question: “Do you think that Christians today are to take these verses literally? Are we to actually live our lives using this as our guide?”
Luke 6:27-38 (Words of Christ):
- Love your enemies
- Do good to those who hate you
- Bless those who curse you
- Pray for those who mistreat you
- If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also
- If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also
- Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back
- Do to others as you would like them to do to you
- “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
- Love your enemies! Do good to them
- Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked
- You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate
- Do not judge others, and you will not be judged
- Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you
- Forgive others, and you will be forgiven
- Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
What do you think? Are these verses in the Gospel of Luke an actual blueprint for living our lives today or a metaphor, meant to encourage and challenge Christians to live more sacrificially? Do you find yourself thinking that most of these statements are good as a guide but a few of them are over the top? Did God include these verses to be thought provoking but not literal? Perhaps the purpose of these verses is to provide a basic outline for Christian living but not to be taken literally.
But then, how can we pick and choose which Bible verses are literal and applicable for today’s Believers? Do we have the freedom to ignore verses that present too great a challenge for our flesh? If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word, given to its writers by the Holy Spirit then who are we to disregard those which present too great a challenge? We only have to look to the Book of Job to be reminded of who God is:
Job 38:4-7 ~“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”
Finally, what does the Bible itself have to say about all the verses contained inside?:
2 Timothy 3:16 ~All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.