Love Your Enemies
So, I wanted to give some time for my previous blog to sink in before I broke down each commandment…with that being said, let’s dive in to Commandment #1.
Love your enemies.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
First, let’s talk about this on a personal level…a human level if you will. Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. Doesn’t that sting a bit!? We typically want to really dislike our enemies. We don’t want to be around them, we don’t want to talk to them, and we want to harbor ill will against them. We especially don’t want to pray for them, we at least don’t want to pray for good things to happen for them.
And if we have enemies that persecute us, we want to return the favor. We want to dismantle that enemy. Our enemies could be as big as ISIS or North Korea or as small as your next door neighbor who constantly harasses you.
If I am a new Christ-follower, you mean to tell me I have to love those jerk faces that are trying to kill us? I have to pray for those who kill innocent people and hate Christians?! Are you serious?! Well, according to the red letters, that’s the commandment!
Now that we have addressed this commandment from a follower’s point of view, let’s look at it from Jesus’ point of view…if we can…
Looking at the context surrounding the verse we can maybe understand the verse a bit better. Jesus has been discussing different issues to the crowds that have gathered. The issues dealt with some of the Old Testament laws and ideologies, from divorce to giving to the needy. Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Let’s break this down:
[if !supportLists]1. [endif]Jesus discusses old law and ideology
[if !supportLists]2. [endif]Jesus gives new commandment
[if !supportLists]3. [endif]Jesus discusses what happens when you follow new commandment
[if !supportLists]4. [endif]Jesus discusses purpose of new commandment
[if !supportLists]5. [endif]Jesus discusses challenge to be like God
Why did Jesus feel like he needed to give a new commandment and does this new commandment override the old ideology?
Jesus gave this new commandment because he came to give and show the love of God. He wants us, his followers, and the followers of God above to love one another. It’s easy for us to love our friends. It’s easy to enjoy the company of those that we have the same interests with. That’s why he tells us to pray for those who persecute us. By praying for those individuals we are showing and sharing the love of Christ.
To answer the second part of the question is simple. There wasn’t a law that said you had to hate your enemy. It was a thought process adopted by the Jewish hierarchy of the time to help separate them form those that were different or that they didn’t want to like.
So why should we love our enemies? Because it’s what Jesus would want us to do. Because it’s what makes the followers of Christ different from everyone else. Jesus compares those who love their neighbors and hate their enemies to the tax collectors (who were very hated individuals) and the pagans (those who believe in other gods, or don’t believe at all). It ultimately shows the love of Christ in action.
The challenge is thrown down to be like God the Father and to be perfect in the love that your provide for one another. I know, easier said than done right?!
How do we become perfect like God the Father? Well, we can’t. We can’t be perfect. But we can try. That’s the challenge! Will you accept this challenge? It’s not going to be easy. But anything that is worth fighting for and working for isn’t always easy.
There you have it.
Stay tuned…next Jesus 2nd Commandment…