Love for Enemies: Matthew 5:43-48
Thoughts about serving others
This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.
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Jesus begins by pointing out a common mistake many of us make, even today: loving your neighbor means hating your enemy, i.e., those who are not your neighbor. Somehow the Jewish leaders at that time provided a corollary law as the antithesis of love your neighbor. Jesus is clear, this makes no sense! Everyone is your neighbor, love them all!
To make his point, Jesus draws our attention to something that is easy to appreciate:
The standard that is taught here is much higher and much broader in reach, after all, Jesus was preaching here to save the entire world, not just a small part of it. The Jews had become isolationist in their thinking, attempting to cut off the evil world outside by building walls (literally) and laws that would keep others away. This didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Jesus does not imply we should worship the gods of our enemies, nor should we adopt pagan rituals or immoral positions to gain their friendship. Not at all! He does command us to love them nonetheless. This is something that perplexes most, so let’s keep it simple:
There, that clarifies it, just be perfect! Thanks preacher! I was hoping you’d get to the bottom line, now I can go home and give up completely. What do you mean be perfect? This is impossible!! I think if Jesus were preaching this sermon today, those who were nodding off in the front row would wake up at this point. Did I get your attention? What we do here on earth must be a reflection of God and our goal needs to be set on worshiping God in all things. If we do this, we move toward perfection.
Though we will never attain perfection this side of heaven, we must keep on trying. One rather simple method is to love everyone. God would gladly welcome all into his family if they would receive Christ as their savior. Those who do not certainly will not if we are judgmental snobs looking down our noses as if we have arrived. Love your neighbors, love your enemies, love people, love God–really simple to understand, just difficult to do at times.
Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us, help us to love others as you love them.