"But I tell you, : Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the
sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain
on the righteous and the unrighteous." -- Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)
Christ's command, spoken to His disciples, was intended for all of us as well. It is difficult enough
for us to love--the word used in the above passage is from the Greek "agape," which indicates an
unconditional love--even those who are our neighbors . . . how much more so our enemies! It is
unnatural for us to love our enemies; it is, in fact, supernatural. Only God can provide the
strength necessary for us to accomplish this.
In the world's current state of affairs, this necessary love seems absent, even in those of us who
call Christ our Lord. It would appear, in fact, that certain types of hatred--and the hateful acts
that stem from this--are tolerated, or even actively condoned. When I read of or hear about people who profess to love Jesus who are directing hatred against political rivals or individuals who follow a different faith, I have to wonder exactly how we are expressing Christ's love (the immense love that led Him to die on the cross for ALL people, no matter how sinful). Rather than rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to allow us to love even those who persecute us, who oppose us (in theory or in reality), or even those we disagree with, it would seem that we rely instead on political practices, grandstanding, or complicated "excuses" for our hatred. In short, we are being more of the world than we are of God's Kingdom. The kind of "extreme love" that Christ taught and demonstrated confronts us with our hypocrisy. And, I say "we" and "ours," because I'm just as likely to fall into those traps as anyone. No, it isn't rational or logical to "love your enemies." It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But there is no way to "spin" Christ's command to fit into our political, racial, economic, or national "agendas;" IF WE ARE TO FOLLOW JESUS, WE MUST LOVE OUR ENEMIES. Period. And that love must be visible, demonstrative, and unconditional.
Loving your enemies isn't easy. JESUS isn't easy. But if you make up your mind now to follow Him, and constantly pray for Him to love THROUGH you, it can be done. A lot of the mud being slung at various groups of "THEM" could just as easily be flung at us. The first understanding a person has to have in coming to Jesus is that we are broken, and only by accepting Him--and this means following His commandments--can we ever achieve wholeness. Are you really that taken with the big-shots and the talking heads, the "experts" of this world? How does their integrity stand up compared to the Word, made flesh for our sake in Christ? I truly believe that if more people followed Christ's lead, and truly made that effort to let His love overflow from their lives on everyone--neighbors and enemies--that the world would change for the better. It's easy for our enemies to hate us as long as we continue to direct hatred at them; imagine how difficult it would be, though, if their "enemies" started showing them LOVE? It would stand their philosophies on their heads! If you're a Christian, a follower of Jesus, then take this time, NOW, to pray for the strength to love your enemies--personal, political, or national--the way Christ loved us. If this is too hard for you to swallow, though, perhaps it's time to take a personal inventory and decide what's more important to you: your personal, political, or national welfare, or the self-sacrificial servant life that Jesus taught AND walked out, even to the worst imaginable death of His time. The only solution to the hatred that permeates our world like a cancer is the supernatural one. Angels and demons wait with bated breath to see what choice we will make.
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