STUTZMAN URGES INVESTMENT IN HOPE
It was a revolutionary statement for its time and, for most of us, an "extreme makeover of the heart" is still needed to apply it, Ervin Stutzman told a Bluffton University chapel gathering Feb. 10.
But loving one’s enemies, as Jesus commands in Luke 6, is an investment in hope that can reap a bountiful harvest, the executive director of Mennonite Church USA said.
Visiting Bluffton during Spiritual Life Week on campus, Stutzman toured its Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center and the Mennonite Archives in Musselman Library. He also met with students, faculty, campus ministry staff, and President James Harder and members of his Cabinet, in addition to bringing the chapel message.
"God calls us to live in hope," Stutzman said, and our knowledge that he works in us inspires internal hope for the future. When God’s grace meets the world’s troubles, hope is created—and that’s an investment, he said.
The "principle of investment," he continued, is found in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
There, and in the Golden Rule, Jesus is saying to invest in others first, Stutzman said. If we want others’ forgiveness and love, he added, the best way to invest—especially if feeling guilty about our own sins—is first, through God’s grace, to forgive their faults and love them.
He said he doesn’t know of a "more impressive modern example" of what Jesus says about forgiveness in Luke 6 than the aftermath of the Amish schoolhouse shooting in Lancaster County, Pa., in October 2006. After Charles Roberts IV shot 10 girls ages 6-13, killing five, before committing suicide, Amish elders went to his widow to say they forgave him. "That became the news," Stutzman recalled. "That investment made it possible for hope to spread around the world."
"We plant seeds with the hope that something more and different will arise," he noted. Every action taken to plant the seeds of God’s grace with someone else is an investment, and while not all seeds grow, he said, some "yield a harvest beyond our imagination."
Bluffton public relations, 2/11/11