“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” Right. That’s the way it used to be. That may be the way some were raised or learned how to act after so many disappointments and stabs in the back. It sure does take a lot of energy, though, and living by “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” just makes for a blind and toothless generation. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Seriously? How is this done, especially in a world where cut-throat is the game of the week? What Jesus is asking us to do is not something impossible or unnatural. It is the only thing that makes sense and will bring peace to me and hopefully in time to the hostile person. It is altogether possible to disarm a hating person by acting towards them positively and lovingly, refusing to be controlled by their negative attitudes, and imitating Christ Jesus in every way possible and any given situation.
Our call today is simple: remember that anyone who harms us harms themselves as well, even if they get a twisted pleasure in the short term. If I have a true Christian spirit, I will reach out in compassion to that person. I will want that person to be healed, healed of their hatred, healed of their anger, and to learn how to love. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This will not be easy, but it is not impossible either. The rewards are amazing. It is an unusual way to live precisely because it is a call and a challenge to do everything in our power to imitate God in extending our love, respect, and forgiveness impartially and unconditionally to everyone, especially to the ones who render injustice and sorrow upon us.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” My friends, this is a new commandment because it makes us unique and refreshed in the Lord Jesus, which may be why many of the saints have referred to it as “perfection.”
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” G. K. Chesterton