“Give Me Life in Your Ways” (Psalm 119: 37)
Last Sunday’s Gospel text included a hard set of teachings from Jesus: Turn the other cheek. Love enemies. Go an extra mile. Don’t resist the evil one. (Matt. 3:38-48)
I was to teach these ideas to children between five and eight years old. Sigh.
Thank goodness the lesson plan offered a clear and compelling interpretation of the teachings. “We must take care not to submit and resign ourselves to the oppression but with the assurance of God’s love for all involved, invite the other person to resist with us.” (Seasons of the Spirit)
To resist with others rather than give in to oppression or evil, is profound. The relational work it takes not to hate one’s enemy but to invite that person (or recruit a part of oneself) to resist evil together with us, is risky yet compelling work. How did I teach this to my daughter and her young church friends?
We read together from the Sermon on the Mount. We talked about Jesus and what he taught about relationships. We did some role plays with dilemmas about everyday choices. We asked questions about to get along with others and live in the ways of Jesus. Learning to love rather than jumping to the worst conclusions or acting from dread and fear, are hard relational lessons to learn. Convincing friends – at any age – to resist oppression and live God’s way with us? Possibly one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Lord have mercy, as we build community together and seek life in your way.