Jesus shockingly told his followers to love their enemies, to do good to those who hated them, to bless those who cursed them, and to pray for those who abused them. He also told them to turn the other cheek if someone struck them and to not demand their stuff back if someone takes it from them (see Luke 6:27-36).
But that is NOT the way the world works, is it? These expectations Jesus had for his followers are not natural. In the real world, you don’t love enemies—you hate them. You don’t do good to people that hate you—you do bad to them. You don’t bless someone who curses you—you curse them back. You don’t pray for people who abuse you—you despise them. You don’t offer your other cheek to someone who hits you—you smack them back. You don’t sit still if someone takes your stuff—you arrest them.
We need to admit it, we will never be able to love like this without God’s help. We cannot love the unlovable without Divine assistance. It is natural to love only those who love you. It is supernatural to love those who hate you. We need to learn to love the way God does. He sends his sunshine and rain on both the evil and the good—his love does not discriminate (Matthew 5:43-48).
Jesus showed us how to do this when he washed the feet of his betrayer Judas and when he prayed on the cross for the Roman soldiers who were crucifying him, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” In order to obey this command from our King, we will need to lean into Him hard. We branches must abide in Jesus the vine (John 15) if we expect to bear the very distinguishing fruit of loving our enemies.
Reflections: Who would you consider an enemy? Ask the Lord to give you the ability to love those who are hard to love.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.