Greetings in Christ,
'You have heard that is was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.’ Matthew 5.43-45
Jesus just keeps raising the bar for us in the Sermon on the Mount. He is making it clear that to be a disciple is not merely having one’s name on the membership registry of a congregation. Discipleship means that one’s whole life is dedicated to living in a way that is very much at odds with the prevailing culture. It is at the least very challenging and certainly not a little bit scary.
The way of the world is to love those who agree with you, who are like you, who share the same worldview as you and to be suspicious, even hateful of those who do not. Sadly, history has shown that this has been the practice of humanity from the moment we began to form groups. We have chosen hate and violence against one another from the very beginning, from the days of Cain and Able.
So, the world wise would say to Jesus, ‘Isn’t this a bit too much, a bit unrealistic, even dangerous?’ Jesus is no pollyanna, pie-in-the-sky dreamer. He very clearly understands humanity and its brokenness. He is not saying that we should be doormats for the world to trample upon. He is teaching us that the way of the Father is not the way of the world. Where the world says ‘hate’ we will say ‘no, the love of God compels us to act in different way.’ We will not return hate for hate, evil for evil. We will take the much harder path of showing the love of God to all. We will pray for those who would be our enemies so that God in His mercy will change their hearts and ours to turn from the useless ways of this world.
Some will argue that this is still so very unrealistic, that if we don’t fight against evil it will take over. We have fought evil with evil generation upon generation and it is still active among us. Jesus is asking us to take a different way, to seek the transformation of our lives and of the lives of those around us. It will not be easy, but unless we try, unless we begin, evil will continue its grip on humanity.
So, pray for your enemies, learn to love as Jesus has loved us. Begin there as children of our heavenly Father living in a world yearning for its renewal.
Blessings in Christ,