TRAIL GUIDE: The Extra Mile
The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend. We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.
EXTREME MAKEOVER, Unit 2, Section 3, Lesson 3: Love Your Enemies by Going the Extra Mile
Several years ago I ran in the annual Army 10-Miler in DC. I signed up for 10 miles and I trained for 10 miles. What happened instead was a race diversion. Because of a bomb scare, I (along with 20,000 other runners) ended up going 11.5 miles. When asked to run 10 miles, we ran 11.5 instead. Okay, but that’s not exactly what Jesus was talking about in His most famous sermon (Matthew 5). So what was He getting at? Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, if someone forces you to go a mile, go with him two miles. Say what? This is crazy talk, Jesus. That’s just not feasible. He clearly hasn’t kept up with the latest personal assertiveness seminars. Get ahead by standing up for yourself. That’s the American way.
We started out this section looking at how we can love our neighbors in the family, and in the church. Most recently, as we discussed our neighbor in the world, we first looked at the sinner and then the defenseless. So far, so good. All these folks we could look upon with either affection or at least compassion. But God couldn’t leave things that simple. Jesus, as He repeatedly does throughout His ministry, has to push the idea to its divine extreme. Not only does He say it – “love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you…” – but He lives it out. Or maybe “dies it out” is more appropriate (Romans 5:7-10). Jesus, in taking love to its divine extreme, makes it all the more clear that, in our unregenerate, fallen state, we simply cannot love like God loves. Only through the empowering of the Holy Spirit can we truly embrace this brand of extreme love. Read the following definition of love, and meditate on it in light of the cross.
“Agape, or divine love, is eternal and totally independent of the object of its favor. Agape is an affection which stands in spite of any element of attractiveness, desirability, or even value. It also can be hated by the object of its affection, without damaging its intensity or character.”
“So we are not quick to demand justice unmingled with mercy… When we live this way, we magnify the glory of God’s mercy and the all-satisfying Treasure that He is to our souls. We show that because of His supreme value to us, we do not need the feeling of personal vengeance in order to be content.” – John Piper
BE EXTREME – LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. JESUS DID! “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
MEDITATING ON THE WORD:
Matt 5:38-48 | Rom 5:7-10
Rom 12:20 | Col 3:13