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Love Your Enemies

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Love Your Enemies

 ‘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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? 

Matthew 5:43-48

For most of us the decision to receive the gift of salvation God offers to the world in Jesus was a fairly easy one to make. After all, that decision doesn’t cost us anything; it is the free gift of grace through the faith that is also gifted to us. In many respects it is God’s choosing that brings us into the blessed light of salvation. A good Presbyterian would say it is our destiny, and it is in that sense that we consider humanity to be pre – destined. From the beginning it is God’s intention to save the world.

The harder choice for us to make is to live a life that is committed to living under the Lordship of Jesus. That’s a harder choice because that choice costs us everything. Try as we may to create them, the fact is there just aren’t many options to how we are to think about, treat, respect, embrace, welcome, and receive others if we are being a disciple. Jesus reminded his followers that the command was clear: Love God with all you have and love neighbor as self. The epistle of John teaches that we cannot love God while hating brother or sister. The Apostle Paul instructed the Roman church that hospitality was the hallmark of the faithful community and that we should never seek revenge – hate evil and love good – leave room for God to work, was his instruction.

We live in a world that begs us to find enemies among us and lash out at them. The reasons hardly matter. We are supposed to have political enemies, national enemies, economic enemies, and religious enemies. What we perhaps forget is that the world has always operated in this way, and the story of humanity told in the bible bears that out. Jesus himself encountered all of this and offered up hard to follow instruction: Love your enemies and pray for those who would purposely hurt you. Jesus taught that the most effective way to engage enemy was to love them as the brother and sister of God that they are.

Having Jesus be our Savior is a blessed gift of grace free to all who believe. Serving Jesus as Lord is a lifelong commitment of obedience, trust, and self – giving love that will cost and cost and cost, and we can only live like that as we stay in touch with God and continue to seek the guidance of Jesus’ teachings and the help of God’s Spirit.

Let us pray:
Come to us today, O God, in the wonder of your love. Live in the secret places of our hearts where we have tried so hard to keep you out, those places where you know us as we really are. Fill us with your Spirit, and by your grace send us out into the mix of whatever this day will bring in order to show your compassionate and strengthening love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.*

(*Mark H. Landfried, from Let Us Pray: Reformed Prayers for Christian Worship).