The moral precepts of Jesus are not intended to be understood legalistically, as prescribing what all Christians must do, whatever the circumstances, and pronouncing certain courses of action universally right and others universally wrong.; They are not legislation laying down what love always demands of every one: they are illustrations of what love at any moment require of anyone.; They are, as it were, parable of the Kingdom in its moral claims – flashlight pictures of the uncompromising demand which the Kingdom must make upon any who would respond to it.
Life in Christ Jesus, in the new being, in the Spirit, means having no absolutes but his love, being totally uncommitted in every other respect but totally committed in this. And this utter openness in love to the ‘other’ for his own sake is equally the only absolute for the non-Christian, as the parable of the Sheep and the Goats shows. He may not recognize Christ in the ‘other’ but in so far as he has responded to the claim of the unconditional in love he has responded to him – for he is the ‘depth’ of love. The Christian ethic is not relevant merely for the Christian, still less merely for the religious. The claim of the Christ may come to others, as indeed it often comes to the Christian, incognito: but since it is the claim of home, of the personal ground of our very being, it does not come as anything foreign.
It (the ethic of love) is prepared to see every moment as a fresh creation from God’s hand demanding its own and perhaps wholly unprecedented response
For the Christian gospel is in perpetual conflict with the images of God set up in the minds of men, even of Christian men, as they seek in each generation to encompass his meaning.