What emotions, and perhaps prejudices, does the above picture evoke? Maybe your feelings are immediate repulsion at the people in the photo? Or maybe, your delayed reaction comes against people who would have an issue with the people in the photo?
In two very clear passages, Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36, Jesus speaks to the mob following him about loving their enemies. His point is very easy to grasp: you cannot love just the people who love you; you are to love your enemies who do not love you (or you do not love them, as in the case of the good Samaritan). This is so vitally important because it is love that characterizes the life of a disciple of Christ (go read I John if you have doubts).
Yet, so many times these passages are glossed over, too easily explained, and not really wrestled with. Do we really pause to take in the moment of what Jesus just said to all of us?
We are to love our enemies.
I do not know about you…but that does…absolutely nothing for me. Why, is that? Well, because I do not think of myself as having enemies (which may be a whole other problem). So, it is kind of easy for me to nod at this verse and move on. Yet, when we redefine our enemies as, “people that not only hate us, but also that we hate,” then I begin to see how much work I need God to do in my heart toward people that I do not love.
There are lots of people I do not love; I would not say I hate them, but because I do not love them…that is the reality of it. In the next few blogs, I am going to be open and honest about the people I have a hard time loving. Then I am going to ask for forgiveness and publicly commit to pray for and even to like thesepeople. It is my hope that as I share my struggles in this area, that you too will be inspired to love the people you hate.
People knowing we are disciples of Jesus is based on our love; too much is at stake for us to not be about God’s love toward our enemies. Who knows, they may even be able to see the Gospel through us for once.