Romans 12:20: If you enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.
As Pastor Appel has pointed out this morning, food and feasting are weapons of God’s kingdom. Jesus undermines Pharisaical boundary markers by eating and drinking with prostitutes and sinners. He battles the evils of the Jews and forms a new table fellowship from the rejects of Jewish society.
Building on Jesus’ meal practices and teaching, Paul also recognizes that food is a weapon. He quotes from Proverbs to teach us how we are to respond to enemies.
It’s a counter-intuitive response.
It makes best sense to respond to enemies with full force. When we’re hit, we hit back harder, or at least we protect ourselves. Paul says the opposite. Not only does he tell us to return good for evil, but he tells us we need to put ourselves in the same vulnerable position that Jesus was in: He calls us to show hospitality to wolves and lions.
It’s counter-intuitive, but Paul assures us that it works. It heaps burning coals on our enemy’s head, turning the enemy into a living altar, burning with the fire of the Spirit like the apostles on Pentecost.
At this table, Jesus invites us, His former enemies, to be His companions, to share His bread. And He commands us who are His people, Go and do likewise.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 7:22 am
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