26 January 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48 NLT)
Seriously? Love my enemies!? Don’t you think that some of the folks sitting there on that hillside listening to Jesus thought, “Come on, Rabbi! You can’t be serious about this! I mean, yeah, “Love your neighbor”, I can see that. I don’t really do it, but I can see it. But love your enemies? Get real! This ain’t no Sunday School picnic! How about ‘tolerate my neighbor and nuke my enemies?!’”
Reading the things folks post on Facebook and tweet on Twitter to and about people they don’t like, it seems like 20 centuries of being “Christian” hasn’t really changed us all that much! Seeing how people dislike and disdain others who are different from them and then label “different” as “enemy” leads me to think that our religion isn’t making us much like Jesus!
Those who heard Jesus’ teaching and did what he said were transformed by love. They gave up earth for heaven to bring heaven to earth. Those who heard his teaching and said, “No, we’re going to love people who are like us and hate people who aren’t” became the mob that chanted “Crucify Jesus! He’s a threat to us all!”
How do you love your enemy? For that matter, how do you love your brother or your neighbor? This is more than religion. This is more than being “do-gooders.” This is more than learning to tolerate others’ differences. This is putting the well-being of people who have wronged you, people who are opposed to the things you value, people who mean you harm, at the same level as your own well-being.
Father, Please help us to want this, help us to open our hearts to the new thinking that takes the words of Jesus seriously. Help us to allow your Spirit to work deeply in us to live the Law of Love – God love, others love, neighbors love, even enemy love! Amen!