Jesus said, straight up, “love your enemies.” Even people who don’t know much about the Bible are aware of this statement, “love your enemies.” But, how in the world do we do that? Why in the world do we do that? Because that is what God does every single day. Every day God gives that gift to everyone. Causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine and His love to pour out on every one. Every day. God just loves.
This is the broader context of Jesus words. “You have heard that it was said….” “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” “But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in Heaven because he causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good every day. Everybody gets God’s gift of the sun. And he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:43-47)
Now I don’t know about you… but this is not the way I work. I can love my friends, I can love my neighbor, I can love my family. But if somebody hurts me…..I have trouble there. If somebody hurts someone I love? I have trouble there. If someone I love is getting hurt I have a hard time not telling them to hurt that person back.
Have you ever had that middle of the night confrontation – not with the actual person but in your head you imagine what it would feel like to let them have it… to make them pay, to hurt them like they hurt you? Sure you have. Does that make you love them more?
A study was done asking what is the #1 factor in determining whether or not I will like another person. (Physical attractiveness, IQ, common interests, personality type, etc?) Anybody want to guess? It’s whether or not they like me. If they like me, I will like them.
Something else that is just about as revealing. Anyone want to guess what’s the #1 factor that determines if you will not like somebody? If they don’t like you.
God is not like that. He doesn’t love that way. This is where it is so hard for us to understand God because we project all of our stuff on Him. God just loves people. He loves people that love Him. He loves people that don’t love Him. He loves people that worship him and people that spit in His eye. He loves people that praise him and people that ignore him. He just loves people who don’t believe he exists or are actively trying to prove he doesn’t exist. He just loves them.
And he doesn’t do it because he has to. He does it because it is the only way to be that has life to it. And Jesus says “I will be with you, and I will help you because you can’t do this yourself.” But you can start doing that. There’s not a whole lot of rules that will guide you. Every situation will take some creativity and so you have to pray. That is why he says “Love your enemy and pray.” Because that’s generally the next step: “God, I don’t even know what to do!” You can find some confidential and trusted friends who will help you think this through, and give wise advice. And you will be strong and creative.
What are you waiting for? You already have the person in your mind that you need to love like God loves. Just do it!
(The entire message on Sunday, November 21, 2010, at New Venture Christian Church, will be devoted to “love your neighbor.” After November 21, the audio version is available at this site,under the title “You’ve Got To Be Kidding.”)http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57