Love My Enemies? I Don’t Even Always Like My Friends!
It’s said that real love is tough love. Tough love tells those hearing it what will not be easy to do, but it is worth their effort. Jesus told the crowds and his disciples, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) It is hard to love an enemy! Jesus makes it plain loving our enemy is both the hard thing and the right thing to do.
Jesus refers to an enemy in the gospel of (Matthew 5:38-48) as dealing with an evil person. One who is ready to strike you on the face, ready to sue you, or force you into carrying their load for them. He instructs us to not resist our enemy but let him strike you on the other cheek, give more than asked for to your enemy when sued, carry a load of a soldier farther than necessary, two miles rather than one.
Sadly, we may be more ready to react to an enemy with a sense of wanting justice. We want them to pay, “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for a foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:23,24) Many folks, including too many Christians, want to get even or pay back in kind to an enemy.
Jesus warned that we have a desire for easy loving on our part. We love those who love us. We will do good to those who are good to us. We quickly lend to those who we are sure will repay us. Jesus is clear we are to love the hard way. It is tough, extremely hard, to love an enemy, to do good toward our enemy. Romans 12:20 instructs us, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”
Presently, we find so many concerned with their own interests and opinions that people collide. People are feeling oppressed and insisting on oppressing others. People are blindly doing to others what they would not want to be done to themselves. People are full of judgment and condemnation for anyone who disagrees with them. Too many see no need to be merciful and loving towards others, especially those they see as enemies. They celebrate being lawless and not helping their enemies but destroying them.
Christians seek to love their enemies because God loved us first. (1 John 4:19) While we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to God (made right before God) by the death of his Son. (Romans 5:10) Jesus told his disciples and followers, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Most of us will admit it’s extremely hard at times to love fellow Christians, our family members, friends, and even ourselves. Most of us realize that others find it extremely hard to love us. Jesus says, “Center your loving on me, remember how hard it was for me to die on the cross for you!”