• Matt Beaney

#335 – DO NOT TURN AWAY (23/4/21)


On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding retaliation.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

The phrase ‘do not turn away’ speaks so powerfully to us. Is this not the way that God treats us? When we were dead in sin; when we were far away; when we were in rebellion to God, He did not, and does not, turn away from us! Likewise, our relationships are to be saturated with gospel kindness.


Jesus begins this section by pointing out our legitimate rights of revenge. Yes, you can have an ‘eye for eye, and tooth for tooth…’. People would probably pat you on the back for standing up for your rights! Nearly every film and story has an element of the ‘underdog’ winning a victory by reaping revenge on those unjust villains.

We could legitimately say that we have the right to ‘turn away’ from being kind and generous in the ways that our text outlines. This is a temptation to all of us. We are all tempted to withdraw and retreat into comfort and isolation. We can surround ourselves with people who don’t demand anything from us. We don’t want to be in a city, a street, a church, a Community Group… where we’re exposed to the challenge and pain of this kind of generosity.


RESPONSE

As we approach the end of lockdown and a return to ‘in-person’ life, many of us are not sure that we don’t prefer virtual relationships! Keep work and church online, it’s less demanding!

Have we ‘turned away’ from deep, costly relationships? Each of the challenges in this text can never be completely avoided, but they are lessened if we dig up our roots and ‘escape to the country’. It’s in community that we are close enough to be tempted by an ‘eye for eye…’. It’s in community that we get ‘slapped’ and have to consider responsible generosity etc. You and I will only be able to live out this vision of Kingdom generosity if we are rooted in a community.


COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN

Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Particularly, this Sunday is a special gift day. Let's be praying as to how we will respond to this. Our target is £30,000.


Suggested opener/Ice-breaker

Nearly every film and story has an element of the ‘underdog’ winning a victory by reaping revenge on those unjust villains. What film or book comes to your mind when you think of revenge on an evil person or group getting justice?


Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding retaliation.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

Jesus begins this section by pointing out our legitimate rights of revenge. Yes, you can have an ‘eye for eye, and tooth for tooth…’. People would probably pat you on the back for standing up for your rights! Nearly every film and story has an element of the ‘underdog’ winning a victory by reaping revenge on those unjust villains. However, Jesus makes it clear that people who have received the gospel message and entered the Kingdom of God have a very different approach to retaliation.


Put very simply, Christians are not to give to people according to what they deserve. Rather, they are to be generous with people as God has been generous to them in the gospel.


Jem encouraged us, in every opportunity for retaliation or generosity, to ‘stop, look and listen’.

i) ‘Stop’ to think; we are to be patient and prayerful before taking action.

ii) ‘Look’ at the consequences of our response. Count the cost. Will my response lead to love and peace or division and escalation?

iii) ‘Listen’ to Jesus and follow His example on how to respond. Consider how the message of the gospel -God's love for sinners' - is going to be reflected in your decision.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?

2. What does it mean to 'turn the other cheek', and have you got any practical examples of doing this?

3. What does it mean to 'hand over your coat as well', and have you got any practical examples of doing this?

4. What does it mean to 'go the extra mile', and have you got any practical examples of doing this?


Serving, Investing and inviting

The way that we refuse to take vengeance speaks of the gospel. Let's take a moment to share and pray about this.

1) How do you deal with conversations that are vengeful?

2) The 'extra mile' principle is a massive way that we 'serve, invest and invite' How are you going the extra mile in your non-Christian relationships?

2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?

2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?




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