“On the Level”
Sermon: “On the Level”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from February 20, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
One thing we have to remember about our gospel lesson this morning is that, as I said, this is the second half of the teachings that if we were reading the gospel of Matthew are referred to as a sermon on the Mount. And of course, in sermon on the mount in Matthew, Jesus talks about blessed are the poor in spirit for, they will inherit kingdom of the earth, and everything is pretty positive.
And Luke's version, of course it was first the blessings and then the curses for those that don't do what they're supposed to do. And we forget totally about the introduction of that whole section and therefore the introduction to the section that we also have today.
After taking his disciples up on a mountain to pray. He came down with them and stood on a level, place, a level place. And then you go through these blessings and curses in our reading from today and everything that's there is Jesus putting everyone on a level plane. Everybody's on the same plane. He's taking the rich and saying that if you are you're irresponsible or if you do everything for yourself and not for others, then things are going to be taken away from you. And if you don't have anything, it's going to be given to you and it's a great level.
And that's an important thing because what Jesus is doing here and notice it in Luke, he's also not talking to the masses. He's talking to his disciples, his followers, and he starts off this portion by saying, but I say to you that listen, to you that listen, in other words, if you're really going to pay attention to what I'm saying, this is what I'm saying to you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. This is no longer the blessings and the curses from the earlier part of this passage, but now it is very specific instructions to do for others what is right, even when they do wrong to you. And that is a very hard thing to do in life. That is a very hard thing to, I mean, we have all kinds of things with dealing with it. There's an old saying about, you know, be careful as you climb the corporate ladder, whose hands you step on, on your way up, because you may meet them again on the way back down.
And of course, you don't have to look very hard to find out where people have... Well, just this morning on ABC, they were talking about. Some guy that was on Tinder um, posing is a rich jet setter and bilking women out of millions of dollars in process. How do you forgive people like that? How do you be kind to people like that? How do you be kind to someone who is as adamant in one direction on a political spectrum as you are on the other? How do you respect person like that? Especially if they don't respect you. And yet the scripture is clear that that's exactly what we're supposed to do. How do we love those that we normally would think of as unlovable?
If you, know of anyone who's been through a messy divorce, think about how hard it is for them going forward to get along. Even if, I mean, especially if there's children involved, it just, it doesn't work. It's hard for them to set aside whatever their personal differences were for the benefit of the children, or for the benefit of the other person. Now there's something more to that. The scriptures tell us that we're supposed to forgive those who have wronged us, if they've taken or cloak, give them your shirt as well. If they've taken your money, just let it go. Jesus list those things off.
And psychologists tell us that if we hold on to our hate our being upset about this. If we hold on to that and dwell on. We are tearing ourselves apart. So there is a psychological component to this, to where, for our own health, we need to do what Jesus is telling us to do, for our own health. We have to forgive the person who has wronged us
We have to let go of the feelings of possession and being wronged when somebody has taken something from. I'm not talking about things like, uh, the high school or college age, young man who can't hold on to a jacket or a sweatshirt, because there are females running all around campus that are wearing them.
That's not what I'm talking about. Why are you rolling your eyes? That doesn't happen. Does it? You've never been involved have you? Ah nevermind. You don't have to answer that. Now your dad's rolling his eyes.
But yeah, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about much more serious than that. We're talking about people that have in some way wrong you, judged you called you out, maybe they put you down. Maybe they bullied you a little bit. Maybe they've made disparaging comments on Facebook about you.
And scripture tells us that we have to let that go and not respond. Aand what's even more is that Jesus tells his disciples. You can't even lend somebody money with the idea that you're going to get it back?
No, he doesn't say don't lend it. He says don't lend it with the idea that you're going to get it back. In other words, you're lending to them to help them out. Not because you're going to get something in return.
Now how many of us would walk around or would gladly lend somebody a couple hundred bucks with the idea that we're never going to get it back. Isn't that just called a gift? But that's exactly it. We're supposed to do things with the idea that we are helping someone else out. Because if we were in that situation, we would want someone to help us out. We want to love the unlovable because we don't want to be unloved. We need to reach out to the other. All those people who have been not allowed to play on the same level plane, because God puts us all on the same level plane.
If you've watched the mono-bob competition in the Olympics. The mono-bob is one female in a bobsled going down the track. And the mono-bob is the first time ever in the Olympics that every team had the exact same kind of sled. So there was no technical advantage. From a rich country to a poor country, to a well-funded program, to a hardly at all funded program. If they had an athlete there to compete, they got the same equipment that everybody else did.
Their choice was what type of runners they wanted to put on the sled. And then it was how well they drove down the track. Interesting to use an example for something that is going down the mountain side to talk about being on a level plane, but that's exactly what that was. That was putting everybody on the same plane. At least as far as equipment was concerned.
This is this passage in its entirety, not just today's reading, but this whole passage from it. Luke's expression of Jesus treating everyone the same and telling his followers that they needed to do the same. It wasn't that you treated somebody that had a whole lot of money differently because they could lend you something. Then you do the person that you might have to lend to, you don't treat them differently. You don't treat this person over here that is well off different from this person over here. You don't treat this person over here who can get you what you want, differently than you can to this person over here who has absolutely no power to do anything.
When we lived in Winchester, Virginia, Winchester, at that point in time. Yeah. Now it's part of the DC metroplex, but at that point in time, it was still pretty much like a lot of Virginia, what was referred to as a good old boy network. You never experienced any of that when you were in Virginia, did you Larry while you're living there?
We moved into Winchester, Virginia, and luckily, we asked our, one of the young men in our church who had just gotten his eagle scout, what troop to involve our boys in. And he told us what troop was probably the better troop. And we got them involved there. And lo and behold, we got tied into the good old boy network in Winchester, Virginia, because the mayor of the town was the scoutmaster.
And I can tell you that it enabled me to get some things done around town that I would not have been able to do otherwise. So, I benefited from that relationship. That's not why we joined or why we had put our boys in that troop.
But. There were a lot of people that did not have that advantage. We had folks in our church that wondered how come all of a sudden, we were able to get things that had not happened before. And that's not supposed to be that way. It's not supposed to be that who, you know, makes a difference as to how you live.
Anybody see the commercial on TV with keeping up with the Jones’. And it's a car ad. It was a Toyota Tundra. Now you've got Jones, Jones, Jones, all driving Toyota. And then there's Jonas yeah Jonas drives up next to the Jones’, you know, keeping up with the Jones. This has been a big thing for a long time, right? It shouldn't be, it shouldn't be because instead of trying to keep up with those over there, what we should be doing is trying to bring those to the same level. And that's what Jesus is telling his disciples is that you need to treat everyone the same.
When was the last time you go up I-75, you get off at Miller road. And at the top of the ramp, there's probably going to be somebody there with a sign, saying please help. Right? This passage calls into question our response on that. Without saying whether that person is legitimately homeless or out of a job, our response, our gut reaction when we see someone that is truly in need, should be informed by what we just read from the gospel of Luke.
That person it's normally at the top of that ramp, doesn't qualify for what he claims to be. But there are people that do. And they're probably not out there asking you for money and they're probably not out there asking you for food because they were ashamed to do it.
But if you treat the person that's in front of you in line at Meijer or Kroger, that's wearing their fur coat and they're diamonds. If you treat them any different than you do the single mom sitting there putting item up item until it gets up to the total they have in her pocket. If you treat them differently, then you're not doing what Jesus calls his disciples to do. And that's a reminder to each and every one of us, Amen.