Last night, someone suggested it would be great for RevGalBlogPals to do its own continuing education programs. We’ve been doing annual programs since 2008 and since 2013, we’ve had more than one program a year. Most of them fill up very quickly, and we often have waiting lists.
I get that the person making the comment was relatively new to our group, but I was also infuriated because it felt like either the work I’ve done has been worthless or the attempts to make it public have failed. I felt invisible. This is the way many churches feel today, but to have it happen within a group sponsored by the organization was particularly frustrating, especially since there were several follow-ups telling us we are doing it wrong. I took – take – it all personally.
It’s easy to go from there to demonizing the person who hurt my feelings.
“But I say to you who are willing to hear: 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 the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.
“If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
“Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.” (Luke 6:27-38, CEB)
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus is very direct (Luke 6:17-49). This may be why the Sermon on the Mount gets more popular play; it’s easier to identify with the poor in spirit than realize we can’t identify with the actual poor unless we do some pretty ruthless self-examination. Overall, the same challenges are laid down for us: treat others the way you want to be treated; turn the other cheek; if people are taking from you, give even more.
Last night’s exchange felt like a slap on the cheek. And even though I’ve read Walter Wink’s take on this text, I am pretty sure that in my case, the slap should have been endured not as an act of rebellion but as an act of humility. It was far too easy to clap back.
“Bless those who curse you.”
I absolutely failed at this last night and again this morning, as the critique from the new person continued to unfold. Instead I engaged in judging and condemning. I wanted to huddle up with my squad and feel vaguely superior so that I would not feel like a loser who did a bad job publicizing a ministry I love.
It’s easy to love my squad.
“Even sinners do that.”
So here I am, a progressive who prepares to think of Lent as a journey, or a season of preparation, and instead, I’m confronted with the need to repent. I’m trying to get there as I write this.
Lord. I confess, I am stubborn. I confess, I resist. I confess, holding on to the resentment doesn’t feel good, but neither does the idea of making amends. Do what you will with me, because I am not doing a very good job myself. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.