Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”
This is one of the hardest and most unwelcome things Jesus ever taught. It is recorded for us in no uncertain terms in the midst of a short summary of all his teaching called, “The Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:20-49).
As a Christian pastor, it’s not my job to make loving our enemies any easier than it sounds. I realize that, with all the recent news about the taking of human life in Boston and elsewhere, loving our enemies actually sounds even more unattractive.
But it is my job to make sure that Jesus’ command to love our enemies is correctly understood. First of all, loving other people does not mean agreeing with them or allowing them to do unloving or unjust things without trying to stop them. As many have said before I did, you don’t have to like particular people in order to love them.
Loving someone means that we do what is within our power to look out for someone’s well-being and help someone to improve and encourage what is good about someone.
But why should we exert this kind of effort for our enemies?
One reason is, we might transform our enemies into our friends, and then everybody would be a lot better off.
But this works only sometimes, and, in fact, Jesus gave a different reason.
We should love our enemies, Jesus said, because God does this. God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. And when we are kind to the ungrateful and the wicked—when we love even our enemies—we are children of God.
Maybe we’re not up to being children of God and living this graciously. But God believes we are, and the grace of God can be very persuasive.
For the complete article see the 04-24-2013 issue.
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