Showing Off How We Treat Our Enemies
Matt. 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matt. 5:45 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.
Matt. 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matt. 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Most of what we learn about the world comes from the people we are around when we are about 2–7. That doesn’t mean the learning and growing stops, though. Around the time my dad died, I was 43 but my wife noticed me acting more like him, maybe because I was thinking about him more. Maybe because I was getting older and learning how to act like an old man.
It’s super easy as a human to hate people. We can do it almost without trying. The next car in the drive-thru, the person on TV, the troll on Facebook. Look, we even hate trolls by definition!
But Jesus lives in us to show off who our daddy is. We’ll be like “sons of your Father” when we don’t hate our enemies. Not only that, when we pray for them and bless them, we are acting as part of God’s family. That’s how God acts, sending sunshine, rain, and mercy on the righteous and the wicked.
Our kids probably know who we hate. They know who your arch enemies are. They know who to mention if they want to start a soapbox rant and get out of doing dishes.
They probably also know how to hate those enemies. Is it with gritted teeth, or with high eyebrows and shrugged shoulders? Jesus doesn’t tell us to not have enemies. Paul says later that we should live at peace with people as much as it depends on us. That means we should never be the side that was the enemy-maker.
Loving your enemies and doing good to them is hard, but it’s the practice that shows off God in our lives the most. It’s the most satisfying thing in the world to see more of Christ’s life in everyday situations. It’s the most satisfying thing in the world to watch your kids do it on their own, too.
As we train our youth in the ways of dealing with their enemies, we are also training our future elders to lead a very welcoming church, aren’t we? We are training the pastors of 2045 on how to disagree and love their enemies.
Any Gentile can hate somebody, but Christ gives us the chance, with His Spirit in us, to choose another path. The rest of the world is desperate to see it.