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Weekly Word

Entries in Enemies (1)

Tuesday
Feb182014

Love Your Enemies

The signature command of Christ has always been the command to love your enemies.  Historically it has been a huge stumbling block.  However, in the western world where we have had a culture based upon Christ’s teachings, it is often twisted to mean something other than what Christ intended.

We always need to approach God’s Word asking this question, “What is the master trying to teach me?”  Instead we often are asking, “What do I think this means.”  Now both questions involve me thinking.  But the first question is more to the point.  It reminds me that I may be missing what the Teacher is trying to teach.  In Luke 6:27-35, Jesus begins to deal with the hearts of those who are being attacked, mistreated, hated, and being taken advantage.  Do other teachings warn those who do the attacking, mistreating, hating, and taking advantage of others?  Yes, but here the master focuses on one side of this equation, the side of the one being injured.

A Call To Love Your Enemies

There is no way around these simple statements of Jesus.  At the end of the day, no matter how much we break down these issues, we are left with a command from Jesus to love our enemies.  This is contrary to man’s sinful nature.  In fact we are quite skilled at co-opting concepts like justice and equity in order to increase evil rather than make things better.  Let us also recognize that these words of Jesus are like a lovely song to our culture.  They sound beautiful and wonderful to us.  But, generally we have no clue what Jesus actually means.  Historically these words would cause people to shrink back as if you had pulled out a poisonous snake.  “What!  Forgive my enemies?  That would be crazy!”  Loving your enemies is the illogical response in this world.

Now in the first part of this Jesus focuses on the actions of love.  Love is not so much a feeling here as it is a choice to do good towards someone who is not doing good towards you.  Thus the command to love is not a command to have wonderful feelings towards another.  Rather, it is to do good things to those who are hating you.  Notice he does not tell us to ignore those who hate us.  That is about the extent of our ability to rise above the ugliness of hatred.  However, Jesus challenges us to pay back good things to those who do not deserve it.

In that sense there is a pattern of reversal in these statements.  If someone curses you then give them a blessing back.  No one wants to be cursed and neither do they feel good when they get cursed.  Under no circumstances are we tempted to bless them back.  Yet, Jesus calls us to give a real blessing rather than a fake, false one.  Those who spitefully use you may make you burn with anger.  However, pray for them.  Jesus is not asking us to pray silent prayers of doom and judgment upon them.  Neither are we to pray for them to have lots of money, success and fame.  We are praying for their eyes to be opened.  We are praying against the darkness that has blinded them to God’s Word and His Way.

When Jesus speaks of being struck on the cheek, he is not bringing up the issue of self defense.  Rather, he is bringing up the issue of being publically dishonored and humiliated.  This can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for most.  Yet, Jesus asks us to turn the other cheek.  In other words, instead of attacking back, or walling ourselves off from them, we remain vulnerable and open to further dishonor.  Why?  The only way they can be saved from such actions is if they run into someone who is different.  When we keep the avenue of communication and relationship open then there is hope for the lost.  But if we shut down these things out of protection or hatred, the person is also being shut off from the Truth.

The last area is when someone takes advantage of us.  In one of the contexts it is clearly between you and a neighbor.  But it is not as clear in others.  It might not just be someone borrowing and not bringing it back.  It might be outright theft, or a soldier abusing their power in order to cease our property.  In each case we do not like it when others take advantage of us.  That is my property.  You have offended me.  Historically people have learned that they might need to just let it go and hide their resentment in order to survive.  But the resentment and hate continues to burn like a fire within them.  Jesus is calling us to something greater than merely surviving dark times.  He is calling believers to be a brilliant light in the midst of such darkness.  If I lose anything for the sake of Christ I can let it go because I know that He will make it right.  Also, God is my supplier.  If someone takes from me knowingly or absent mindedly, I do not need to fret.  God will supply my needs.  He knows if someone has taken from me and will take care of me.  This kind of trust is indicative of a follower of Jesus.

A Call To The Heart Of God

Now in verses 31-35, Jesus begins to probe deeper under the surface than our outward responses.  He is challenging us to understand and embrace the heart of God.  In other words, He is challenging us to be God’s children and learn to embrace His heart.  This begins with a form of the Golden Rule.  Do unto others what you would want them to do unto you.  Now this is not asking what I would want done to me if I had wronged someone else.  We are to simply ask, what would I really want them to do to me?  That is what I will do to them.  The Golden Rule ignores what others have done and focuses simply on what you would want done to you.

This kind of reasoning is begging the question, “What is different about you?”  So what if you were hurt and hated.  Are you also a hurtful and hate-filled person?  You feel that you are righteous because they started it.  But has righteousness poured out of you or vile hatred?  Even sinners love those who love them.  Are you not doing the same thing they are?  Somehow you have reasoned that you are better than them.  But if you truly want to be better then give them something good.  If we operate out of the same motivations of fear, envy, and anger then we are no better than them.  We are not really on God’s side.

In verse 35 there is a present and future tense situation.  We are to do in the present for the sake of a better future.  We too often do things in the present in order to change the present.  “If I punch him back then he will fear me.”  However, this brings us both to a future when we will give an account to God and be found to have fallen short of God’s righteousness.  Following these commands of Jesus may not change your circumstances and it may not stop evil people from continuing to do evil things.  But, you will be rewarded greatly by your Father.  However, if we shrink back from these things there is no reward and the question remains, “Is He really my Father?”  Am I a son of the Most High God?  Don’t be deceived, God cannot be mocked.  There is a day of judgment coming for the wicked who do such things and for those who respond wickedly.  But, God is presently being kind to the wicked.  He has currently left open the door of grace for those who will repent and turn to Jesus.  Thus we too, as his disciples and followers, need to be kind to the wicked.  This keeps the door open for their salvation, yet, does not ensure it.  But Judgment Day is coming.  Don’t let God’s grace or any Grace his followers may show make you think He has called it off.  Ephesians 5:5-7 says, “For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them.”

Also in Romans 2:5-6 it says, “In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds,’”

The spirit of this age is lying to both secularists and Christians.  Both promote a feeling of love and an action of love that rejects Jesus as the Truth.  Both believe that it no longer matters what we do as long as we just love each other.  This is not the message of Jesus.  The message of Jesus is to repent of wickedness and give those who do you wrong good back.  The message of Jesus is that Judgment day is coming and if you want to avoid it you had better put your faith in Him and repent of your own wicked ways.

Love Your Enemies Audio