“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This is one of the most often quoted passages of the New Testament, and for good reason. So much has been written, and no doubt many who read this have written on it at some point, so rather than commenting on it and trying to explain this or that, maybe defining a Greek word or trying to sound wise, I’ll just give you some reflections of my own. Maybe they will include something worthwhile, and if that is the case for you, then that’s great. If not, then by all means toss my wanderings out… or have a good laugh!
What kind of people does God love?
“Well certainly not the kind of people you’re hanging around with; you’ve fallen in with the wrong crowd young man!”
Maybe I was hanging around the wrong crowd, and maybe that wasn’t a good idea for me, but don’t ever think, not even for one minute, that doesn’t love them too. God loves… all of ‘em, even the naughty boys and girls. OK fine, you caught me, I never said anything like that to my mother; do you think I’m crazy?
That would be more like something my sister would have done.
Yet it doesn’t take away the fact that God really does love everybody, the good, the not so good, the sinner and the saint, the black and the white, the rich and the poor, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Muslim; even the Democrats and the Republicans.
It pains me to say so, but it also means that God loves my enemies, and expects me to do the same.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that this is always easy, because it isn’t. Yet, it is always the right thing to do anyway, and we can do it if we decide to.
This is what it means to live in the Kingdom, for the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was a community of love, where all are equal in the eyes of God. Of course in this evil age, not all people have chosen to enter into His Kingdom just yet, and we have been appointed to seek them out, even if they don’t seem lovable at first, just as Jesus did. They may say yes and they may say no, they might even call us names and throw rocks at us, but it isn’t for us to condemn them for their response or shun them for their ways and manners; it is enough for us to invite and welcome, God has the rest.
Sometimes Christians like to talk together about how wonderfully blessed we are to have entered relationship with the Lord, we talk about how great His mercy is, and all that He did to save us, and then we wonder at those who don’t see it. What is the matter with them? Yet once upon a time, someone reached out to me with an invitation to join together with the followers of Jesus, and much to my amazement I said yes to that invitation.
Who would have ever expected that?
So now here I am, so many years later; the torch is now in my hand, as it is in yours; will we deny some poor naughty child of God the chance to say yes to our invitation?
May it never be so.