As Jesus teaches and preaches the good news of God’s kingdom, Jesus calls his apprentices to practice his teachings and redefines what it means to truly be human. In Jesus kingdom, Jesus’ followers are called to love like Jesus loves.
This means even loving our enemies.
The last two paragraphs of Matthew 5 are some of the hardest words from the mouth of Jesus.
Turn the other cheek.
Go the extra mile.
Love your enemy.
Pray for those who persecute you.
In a cultural moment that is filled with divisions and vitriol, this teaching of Jesus is vital for his apprentices to take seriously and practice.
On one hand, Jesus’ call to love our enemies is impossible. Human beings are halfway decent people when they hang out with their own tribe, and even then that can be suspect.
But the moment you get human beings hanging out with other human beings that aren’t the same…
Whether that be
you name it.
Human beings tend to be more animal-like than images of their Creator.
Just look at human history.
But in Jesus’ vision of what it means to be truly and completely human, apprentices of Jesus love even their enemies.
Without being captured and in grateful awe of Jesus’ cross-shaped enemy love for you on the cross you will never truly be able to love your enemies.
To the degree that you are in awe of and relish in God’s love for you while an enemy and sinner, is the degree to which you will allow God’s transforming love to work in and through your life toward your enemy.
But how? How might this look practically in day to day life?
Jesus is a brilliant teacher.
After all, he is a Rabbi.
Jesus gives these massive and inspiring and convicting statements like “love your enemy,” but still brings that down to everyday life.
Jesus gives two small steps that you can put into practice to love your enemy.
Pray for Your Enemies:
The first one is praying.
Yes, pray for them. (Matthew 5v44)
Not that their car would break down.
Not that they’d be late for work
or a nose hair would go rogue on a date.
Not that a tsunami would hit their county.
Not that all the people who disagree with you on whatever hot-button cultural issue just magically go away.
But pray for their well-being.
Pray for God’s favor.
Pray for God’s mercy.
Often times God wants to do something in you through these moments of prayer.
Sometimes all you can pray is a monotone and honestly heartless “God bless them.”
Not all at once, and definitely not right away, God often wants to bring freedom in your life.
Often times we can live in the past of what our enemy did to us.
Whether that be last week, last year or even a decade or two ago, we can easily be held captive.
Bitterness and un-forgiveness hold us in a prison that we ourselves lock.
That’s not God’s heart.
Through prayer, God often wants to free us from bitterness and un-forgiveness.
God also might want to change our perspective on how we view
a people group,
a group that’s advocating for something,
a you fill in the blank.
GREET YOUR ENEMIES:
The second small creative step forward toward loving our enemies is to greet them.
Yes, greet them. (Matthew 5v47)
Look them in the face and say hello.
Maybe with a smile?
Acknowledge they exist.
Acknowledge their humanity.
And perhaps overtime that will lead to more conversations and interactions.
Jesus was always greeting and even eating with who were considered enemies of his day.
Jesus is the ultimate enemy lover.
As a follower of Jesus, Jesus has loved you through death into life in the kingdom.
And in this Kingdom,
enemies aren’t hated,
enemies aren’t Facebook ranted about
enemies aren’t gossiped about
enemies aren’t dealt violence and revenge
Enemies are loved.