“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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” -Matthew 5:43-48
The cultural, and political climate that American Christians find themselves in today is difficult to navigate. Jesus, in this text, is exposing our default position in our fallen human condition. Our disposition is to hate our enemies, and love those who love us. Everyone is like this. It is easy to love those who agree with us. It is easy to love those who love us in return. It is very difficult to disproportionately love people who will never love us in return. We view our love as an investment, and we give it with interest attached. Jesus is saying, don’t be this way. Love your enemies, even when they hate you, persecute you, revile you, and speak falsely against you.
Now, one of the complexities in these statements from Jesus is this, how do I love my enemies, even though they are absolutely wrong? How do I love my enemies who think that a child in the womb is merely a fetus, and has no value in this world? How do I love my enemies that think that churches are non-essential, and should be closed? How do I love my enemies who hate me, and all that I stand for? These are relevant questions for today, and I want to help us (myself included) navigate through these things biblically.
- Pray for your enemies:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
You should never disagree with someone you aren’t praying for. Your righteous indignation also has a prayerful obligation. You should have strong convictions if they are rooted in biblical realities, and you are obligated to pray for those who oppose your convictions. Even when they are dead wrong. Pray for your enemies.
2. Speak the truth in love:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” -Ephesians 4:15
Christians are people of truth, and this is what causes us to have many enemies. People love darkness rather than light. When the light of truth exposes that which is evil, the first response from the unregenerate is always hatred. So, do not be surprised when people hate you, revile you, and say many evil things about you because you stand for the truth. When you stand for the truth, also stand in love. Never tolerate evil. Never embrace evil. Never call evil good. Do not compromise the truth, do not fold your convictions, and persevere in love for your enemies.
3. Examine your heart, and your convictions in light of the Scriptures:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” -2 Corinthians 13:5
In our world, I see many people who are strongly opinionated about things, that aren’t truly rooted in the Scriptures. I also see many people who profess to know Christ, but do not truly serve him, engaging in many conversations in an unbiblical fashion. Neither of these types of people are helping the advancement of God’s Kingdom. As we engage in cultural issues, we must know first and foremost what is the biblical position. And secondly, we must know if we are handling things in a biblical way. And all of us are called to examine ourselves, to see whether or not we are even in the faith at all. What our culture needs more than anything, are truly born-again Christians, engaging in the issues of our day. Those who will cry, ‘Lord, Lord’ in eternity, should not be on the front lines crying out for anything today.
As we attempt to be a light in a dark world, we must be a prayerful, truth-speaking, enemy-loving, and self-examining people.
Lord, make this a reality in all of our lives. In Jesus name,