I’m starting to study the sermon on the plain. By starting I mean actually taking off my to do list and doing. By study I mean reading attentively. By sermon on the plain I mean Luke 6:17-49. It sounds a little like the sermon on the mount, though much shorter.
There are crowds and there is healing and there is power going out from Jesus. But then he starts talking to the people who have indicated that they are following him by simply following him. His disciples. People like me. Maybe like you.
The crowds are listening, of course, fans and critics and skeptics and undecideds. But he’s not exactly talking to them, not creating expectations, not creating guilt. He’s letting them know what it means to follow.
So when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” not once but twice, he’s making it clear that he wants his followers to love their (our) enemies. He says “do good” twice, once following it with “those who hate you” and once with the implication of those who can’t or won’t do good back to you.
Even as I start reading, then, I have this string of invitations: love, do good, lend, give, bless, offer mercy, withhold judgment. And as I was reading closely, I thought, “This is the opposite of a bot or an algorithm.”
The formulas behind our screens, the ones that decide what we are offered, decide what we see, are seldom designed to offer us posts that will invite us to stop and to care. Instead, they will incite us to react, to divide, to condemn. They encourage us to despise those who are different and they make it simple to register that with a simple click.
What we don’t realize is that click shapes us.
So even as I start this reading, I’m challenged. Where in my day do I allow my responses to be shaped by these invitations: love, do good, lend, give, bless, offer mercy, withhold judgment?