The Kingdom of Heaven Has A Different Economy

And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:31-36

macariusThis is a tough gospel because it appears to give us the direction we need to live in the Kingdom of heaven while on earth but it also seems to be oversimplified. Our reaction might be, “Nobody’s going to live like this!” At the beginning of this dialogue with his disciples it is like Jesus is saying, I want to see if you can be open to this vision of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are going to love and so there will be no enemies. No one is allowed any enemies. He goes on to say, if anyone hates you, you are to bless them

  • if anyone curses you, I want you to take care of them
  • if anyone treats you badly, you are to treat them well
  • if anyone slaps you, offer the other cheek
  • if anyone takes your coat, you are to give him your shirt as well
  • if anyone takes your possessions, go after them and give them more

Well, that is just so ridiculous. How can we live this way? It is almost as if Jesus is rattling us. Jesus is saying that he wants us to live a life that completely disregards self. The Kingdom of Heaven has a different economy. Love those who hate you. Do good to those who do bad to you. Lend things out but don’t want them back. Make everything a gift. This is like heaven on earth.

This new way of life opens us up to be instruments of life to other people. We begin to be like Jesus again. We will be like our Father in heaven – merciful, compassionate, not judgmental. There is a wonderful story that captures this new “Kingdom Economy.”

They said of Abba Macarius that a thief went into his cell when he was away. Macarius came back to his cell and found the thief loading his things on a camel. So Macarius went into the cell picked up his things and helped him load them onto the camel. When the loading was finished, the thief began to beat the camel to make it get up but in vain. Seeing that it did not get up, Abba Macarius went inside his cell, found a small hoe there, picked it up and put it onto the camel saying, “Brother, the camel wants to have this.” Then the old man kicked it saying, “Get up.” At once the camel got up and went forward a little, because of his command. Then it lay down again and refused to get up until it was completely unloaded; and then it set off. – Macarius 40

Of course, the ultimate example of setting our own desires aside and living in the kingdom while on earth is seen most clearly in Christ and the Cross. He took no care of Himself and he gave Himself over for the life of the world. “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

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7 Comments

Filed under Flames of Wisdom, Scripture Rumination, Sundays, Feast Days, Other Days

7 responses to “The Kingdom of Heaven Has A Different Economy

  1. Excellent. Thought provoking!
    Seems so far from our recent rants of socialism, capitialism, facists and so forth. What the world could be! I dont think Jesus would be very happy with our current “economy.”

  2. Lenore

    My Sunday school motto this year is “True or False”–the idea being that what Jesus said was either true and real, or outrageous. We’ve been trying to imagine what it would be like for people hearing Jesus.

  3. Reader John Herman

    The econmy of God! Lord, may it rule the earth; beginning with me.

  4. We can see where our economy has gotten us maybe it’s about time we tried God’s.
    Excellent post.

  5. Natalia Nauman

    This is interesting. Problem is, too many women do this. This leads to co-dependency and accepting abuse and maltreatment. Most women don’t have a donkey that just sits down. God doesn’t provide one. Women are killed in this country every year by men who profess to love them. I believe we need to separate Christian lifestyle from the problem of domestic violence. If you can turn the other cheek, you can walk away, and be alert in order to avoid any situation in which that will happen. This goes for outside the home as well. Many who grew up in violent neighborhoods and cities know this life well. There is a lot of violence where God doesn’t send a sitting donkey.

    • Fr. James Coles

      Natalia,
      I can see where you are coming from. However, there is absolutely no way that Jesus is proposing that spousal abuse is somehow part of His Kingdom. There is never an excusable violence in a marriage or family. Sometimes “turning the other cheek” may mean to do the most difficult thing in order to save the other. Maybe calling the cops can be seen as turning the other cheek. It would be difficult to expose our spouse as an abuser and to involve the court system especially in a “Christian” marriage. Thanks for the comment.
      Love,
      Fr. James

      • I think the difference is between “needing” a husband and loving a husband.

        The co-dependency issue is an issue of her dependency on the relationship for some lack in herself. The loving wife cannot be co-dependent, because ultimately her lack is satisfied by God and not her marriage. This empowers her to truly love him. And yes, that might mean calling the cops.

        But she does so for his sake, not hers. That is, his salvation, not her physical safety.

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