There are, I think, many things about the Christian faith that we would never have come up with on our own. There are plenty of things that we would probably change about our Lord’s teachings if we put them up to a vote. They just don’t seem reasonable. After all, Jesus said some pretty out-there stuff, things like: turn the other cheek, love our enemies, and forgive not just one or two or even seven times, but seventy times seven.
Today’s Gospel passage is right up there near the top of the list of things about Jesus that we’d probably change if we could. Everyone knows of course that forgiveness is central to what Jesus taught and how he lived. That’s probably why nearly every church website and street sign I’ve ever seen says something about God’s extravagant grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. That’s as it should be. But the thing is that making forgiveness into a slogan can be a way to avoid having to think too much about the implications of what we’re saying. I’ll bet you’ve never seen a church sign that said, “Jesus loves his enemies—especially you!”