Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” ~ Jesus (Luke 6:35-36)
It’s pretty clear. It’s not convenient or easy, but it is clear. It’s especially clear when you measure these words in light of the One preaching them, in light of the disciples that taught them and in light of the martyrs of old who obeyed them. The reality is we either set out to obey Jesus or argue with Him (usually in an effort to justify or rationalize our position rooted in ideologies different from God’s kingdom). Perhaps what is most striking about this section of Jesus’ sermon is that the word “love” in the original language of the text means, love, and “do good” in the original language means, do good.
What has gripped my heart over these past couple of years is that Jesus the Christ would rather die for His enemies than kill them. If Christians are called “christians” because we pledge to follow the Christ, then it does not take us long to see where following Christ may call us when we look to His blood-stained cross and empty tomb. At this point you and I must decide, will we follow the Christ of Christianity or will we follow some other “Christ” of a risk-free Christianity that in the end proves to be nothing more than moral therapeutic deism?
May those of us who choose the Lord remain faithful, even as we stumble, struggle and strain to trust and obey. May we walk in the power of our faithful God as He has promised to give us strength along the way.
Oh, and Dr. Martin Luther King once offered an insightful statement on why loving enemies is the better way:
“There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates…For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does.”
I bet Jesus knew that too.