It was last Wednesday afternoon when snow was starting to fall heavily. I had to go somewhere so I was driving on I-95. Every car on the road was slowing their speed down and carefully moving along to keep enough distance. But there was this one car in the next lane; this car suddenly cut me off without any proper caution. I was quite surprised and had to press the brake pedal fast and hard on the slippery road. Let me tell you, it was very annoying. But there was one more thing that surprised me even more. It was the plate number of that car. As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t help laughing. The plate number was, “AMENOOO.” Seriously, I’m not joking. It really was, “AMENOOO.” I felt sorry to the driver, but it was so funny. And I got to laugh even more when I saw two bumper stickers on this car. On the left side of the bumper, one sticker said, “Let the Church Say.” And on the right side, the other sticker said, what? Yes, “Amen!” Again, I am not joking at all. I also noticed, there was a shiny chrome trim around the plate, saying, “Peace in Christ.” I thought, “Oh my God…where did this driver get all these from?” Anyway, it was too obvious. The driver must be a Christian, must be a very faithful one. But the problem was that he kept on driving way too wild and reckless. Indeed, the driver decorated his car as godly as he can but drove the car as ungodly as he can. So I asked myself, “does he know what amen even means? And ultimately, to what, this person says amen? To what?” I was curious but there was no way I could find the answer.
Do you know what “amen” means? The word “amen” is a special form of response. In the Bible it’s a declaration of affirmation to a certain message, word, prayer, or command. It’s a solemn expression of strong agreement and hearty approval. So when we say amen to something, it’s like we say, “Yes, I do so believe,” “I certainly agree with it,” or “So be it!” Thinking of these meanings, I hoped the driver might have a great word of God he cherishes so much in his heart that he has to say amen to it all the time even with the plate and the bumper stickers on his car. If not, the word amen is meaningless. And I know there’s no such thing like Christian driving or Christ-like driving, but I think, if he would care more about others on that snowy road, his amen must be more meaningful.
Today, right after I read the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, we all said, “Amen.” Do you remember? By saying this amen, we gave our full consent to nobody else but Jesus Christ. We replied back to Jesus himself, “Yes, I do so believe.” “I certainly agree with it.” “So be it!” But if we look at the words of Jesus in our Gospel reading for today again, we may realize, the amen we just said about five minutes ago would be the heaviest amen we’ve ever said. Let me read you again, to what message, you and I did say amen. Listen carefully. It’s two parts. The first part goes, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also. From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you. If anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again” (Luke 6:27-30). And here the second part goes, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:36-38). How about that? We said amen to these words. We said, we believe them as the truth. We faithfully approved the message and decided to abide by them.
But can we? Can we possibly follow those teachings of Jesus? If we try hard, we may be able to practice the second part somehow in our lives—perhaps not every day but on some good days. We may be merciful, forgiving, generous, and not judging or condemning others on some good days. But then, what about the first part? Can we really love our enemies? Can we truly bless, pray, and give even to those who curse, abuse, and take? Can we possibly meet this high standard ever in our lifetime? Let’s be honest. It’s impossible. It’s beyond our ability and goodwill. Then, why did we say amen to such message? To this impossible command of Jesus Christ? If we were not truly able to abide by them, our amen would be also meaningless and empty like on the car plate and the bumper sticker.
But let’s not be discouraged. I know, what Jesus asks us to do seems truly impossible. Nevertheless, I believe, saying amen to his word can make a difference, if we do it from the bottom of our heart with our good intention and serious commitment. I believe Jesus hears our heartfelt amen to his message and helps us to follow it. I know, by just saying amen, by just giving our consent to Jesus, we are not going to be a special person right away. But by saying sincere amen, we may hold Jesus’ guiding hand that keeps us on his path. By giving our genuine heart to Jesus, we may have the Holy Spirit on our side who always inspires us to keep on loving.
With our ability only, with our effort only, we will never be able to love our enemies and bless and pray for those who curse and abuse us. But with Jesus’ love and grace that transforms our hearts, our life, our action, we certainly can. So here, saying amen mindfully and willingly to the teachings of Jesus is the first step to make a difference.
Do you want to keep on loving even if you can’t do it anymore? In the face of enemies, temptations, challenges, and violence, do you, as a Christian, want to keep on loving as Jesus did? I’m sure we can, when we say amen with your full heart to the words of Jesus today. Amen Jesus! “Yes, I do so believe.” “I certainly agree with it.” “So be it!” Let us hold Jesus’ helping hand, stay in the presence of his empowering Spirit, and try to make a difference in our lives. (5) “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also. From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you. If anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.” “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.” And now let the church truly and wholeheartedly say. Amen.
Pastor Earl Kim