RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, February 24, 2019
RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).
Main Idea: Jesus asks us to love unconditionally, but not to be abused by loving without boundaries.
Can I love and be loved unconditionally? Growing up near the city (San Francisco, and now Minneapolis), I was exposed to the reality homelessness and drug abuse, as I saw people living on the street, begging for money. I learned young not to give money to the homeless people because they might use it for drugs.
But, as I learned more about drug abuse, I started to wonder – what makes drug abusers any less worthy of my gift than another? Drug abuse is a disease – would I withhold support to someone with any other physical or mental illness? Even drug abusers need food, shelter, clothing. So now my choice to give or not to give is a little more difficult. Here’s a difficult reality – if an addict is suddenly left without their drug of choice, they could very easily die from withdrawal. So, here’s my choice – I can withhold my gift and risk their withdrawal and death. Or I can give my gift and potentially enable the continuing of an addiction. Wow! Tough choice.
How about this? I cannot solve the problem of people who are so deep in their addiction that they are living on the street and begging for money and food. When I’m faced with the opportunity to give, all I can do is decide on the spot if that is the right move for me or not. I can, however, do something about the addicts in my own life. I can love them without enabling them. I can love them while I let them experience the consequences of their own choices (without saving them from themselves). I can love them and offer them professional help. I can love them and not judge them (don’t I have my own failings?). I can love them and let them go if holding on to them is bringing me to my knees. I can love when loving unconditionally is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
One of the challenges of loving unconditionally is turning the other cheek without letting myself be abused. Growing up I believed God wanted me to let others do to me whatever they would do. I thought this text, and others like it, were trying to tell me to kowtow to the needs of others at the exclusion of my own needs. But now I understand this differently.
When Jesus suggests that we offer the other cheek, it’s not to say we should allow ourselves to be abused. To offer the other cheek was a way of saying that we are equals with those striking out – that we will not raise our own hand against them – that we will stand toe to toe with them. Jesus would never ask us to step into situations where we are abused, where we are expected to allow, encourage, or endure abuse. Jesus believes we are worthy of being treated as well as anyone else on the planet. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of living without abuse or suffering. We are worthy of standing toe to toe with anyone we encounter – equals, and worthy of power and voice.
(To learn more about remaining healthy in the face of a loved one’s addiction, consider visiting Al-Anon.)
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