But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44 NABRE
Jesus is teaching, His Sermon on the Mount, speaking about a new way. Using the laws from Hebrew Scriptures He adds to and extends them. For example we read, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18) Law abiding Jews will love their neighbor, someone in their community, actually it is a good idea. While hating an enemy was not taught, it certainly was a common inference. Jesus points out only loving those who love you is what tax collectors and pagans do. Jesus teaches love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. This would have been difficult to hear. Jesus was speaking to people who were under Roman occupation, they likely lost family and friends trying to push back the Roman oppressors. Jesus tells them to love those who killed your family, who took your land and are profiting from the money they collect from you in taxes. This is a radical love that would have been received with much skepticism. Yet Jesus says this is the love that will make them children of the heavenly Father. It is exactly the type of love Jesus demonstrates. Hanging on the cross dying he calls out to God saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
We are not demonstrating Christian faith by loving those who love us. To teach people what it means to be a disciple of Jesus we must love those who it is difficult for us to love. The gunman who walks into a mall and kills for no reason. The person on the opposite side of our political views. The politician who speaks against the very thing we believe in. Don’t love those who love you, love those who you would rather avoid than engage.
Who do you love? What is your feeling about loving someone you despise?We are not demonstrating Christian faith by loving those who love us. To teach people what it means to be a disciple of Jesus we must love those who it is difficult for us to love. Click To Tweet
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