You have heard that it 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. (Matt 5:43-44 NASB)
I was going to start out with my standard “shock and awe” statement like:
OK – I am totally not counting any more because Jesus is just being ridiculous! How can He ask me to love my enemy? It’s not fair. I want to hate them…
But by this point in the Sermon on the Mount, I have had this emotion so many times it is getting a bit hack. So for a change, I am just going to jump right in.
First – let’s clarify: Who qualifies as an enemy to be loved?
- Not the enemy of my soul
- Not the world the flesh or the devil
These I am not to love!
Paul does a great job of clarifying this:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 NASB)
Find a guy wearing skin – he is the target of your love. I don’t care that
- she just fired you
- he just cut you off
- they just knocked over your World Trade Center
These are the ones Jesus is talking about.
What does this love look like – I do have a definition for this kind of love I have used before – here is an excerpt from my post “Our Father”
The best definition I know for this kind of love is this. Love does whatever is in its power to bring about the best for its object. Notice I did not say gives the object of love what they want, but what is best for them. The fuller the love, the higher the expenditure of resources involved. What I mean to say is this. If I love you a little, I will expend some of my uncommitted time or energy to see that you are benefited. I will consider what I see as the best outcome for you, and put some of my free resources to work for you. That may be time, money, talent, what ever.
If there is a deeper love (agape) commitment, there will be a higher level of involvement on my part. I will be more focused on what would be best for you, and expend more effort seeing it through.
Now let’s just say I am the One who created you (as well as everything else) and love you unconditionally, with a love that never fails - a love that is stronger than death - a love that can not be separated from Me by anything, created or uncreated - and I know you better than you know yourself, and I understand all possible outcomes of your life. My resources are limitless, and are completely at My disposal to bring about the best outcome for your life.
That is how Our Father loves you.
And this is the call on our lives toward those who qualify as our enemies.
If you ever get the chance to see the video “The Finger of God” do it!
In there is the testimony of a young Christian man in Mozambique who was beaten to death by a few thugs. A couple of the men who beat him until he was disfigured and dead were soon arrested and held in the local jail pending trial.
Meanwhile some friends of the dead man went and prayed over his dead body, and God breathed the breath of life back into his dead body. He was resurrected! (He is the one giving the testimony on the video) He heads to the jail where he goes in and asks the magistrates to drop the charges because he was the victim and did not want to press for their punishment.
These men are released and wonderfully saved by the gospel that demonstrates what only the Spirit of God can do on so many levels.
So I ask you - which is the bigger miracle in this story? The resurrection, or the ability to love your neighbor.
Either way, my life is hardly a worthy offering to a God like this, but it is what I have to give, and He is welcome to it – How about you?
Go and love someone unlovable today. It is the most like Jesus we can ever be. [Tweet This]