“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 ESV)
When we read or hear the words of Jesus, we only have a few options.
We can flat out disobey.
We can find away to explain away what He’s really saying.
Or, we can find a way to obey.
We are faced with these options as we read Matthew 5:44. This verse is one sentence from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but it strikes deep:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
In the Old Testament, there were also clear instructions to love, but the human beings then, like human beings now, wanted to parse the instruction down until they found a loophole.
But Jesus says there are no loopholes. He says its easy to love the people who are lovable. He says even the worst of us can find some person or group to love.
If we want to do something really radical, though, we can love like Jesus. Take, for example, God’s love for us:
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, even though He knew we would live as His sworn enemies. That’s pretty radical.
I’ll confess that I don’t do this well. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I can find some way, even if it’s the smallest of ways, to justify not loving someone. To me, not loving an enemy is a no-brainer.
But God is calling us — calling me — to something else. He’s calling us to love like Him. If we want to make a difference, if we want to demonstrate our love for Him, if we to take up our cross daily and follow Him, then the best way to do these things is to love our enemies.
I’ll have lots of opportunities to do this today. Lord, please help me to love those around me as You love. Help me to see past the event or circumstance and look the Author and Perfecter of my faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.