Do you have any enemies? Is there anyone that it is hard for you to like?
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he said many very difficult things. But maybe the most difficult thing he taught us is that we are meant to love our enemies. In fact, Jesus said that when you love your enemies you are being perfect like God. Listen to this part of Jesus’ sermon, and see if you can hear how he describes our love for our enemies:
Matthew 5:43-48. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In the Old Testament God had told his people to “love your neighbor.” God meant that he wanted us to love everyone. He wants us to see every single person as our neighbor. But the people thought this was simply too hard to do. And so they started to define “neighbor” very differently than God did. They decided that they only had to love the people that looked like them, and acted like them, and believed liked them. And so God’s people, the Jews, found themselves only loving other Jews. They decided that they didn’t have to love anyone else. In fact, everyone else was their enemy, and they were allowed to “hate their enemy” (see verse 43 above).
But then Jesus came along and said something that has never been said before – “Love your enemies.” He also said that this is the greatest thing a person could ever do. When we love our enemies we are being perfect like God is perfect. Does God love his enemies? YES! He loves his enemies so much that he came to earth and died on the cross for his enemies, in order to forgive them, and save them, and take them to heaven to be with himself.
And remember, we were all once God’s enemies that he loved. God didn’t love us because we are so awesome. He loved us even though we were totally not awesome. And if God didn’t love us first, then we would all be in really big trouble.
But what about us? Can we really love our enemies?
Yes, it will be really, really hard at times. And yes, we will all fail at loving our enemies over and over again until we get to heaven. But yes, we can love our enemies. How? By always remembering first that we are love by God. As Jesus said we are “children of our Father in heaven.”
That’s how Jesus loved his enemies – he first knew that he was the loved son of God. And when we know that God loves us the most, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks about us. So when our enemies are mean to us, we can know that God still loves us no matter what. And now we have the strength to love our enemies just like Jesus did.
Because of Jesus we are no longer God’s enemies; we are his children.
With Jesus we can love our enemies.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Watch this short scene from Star Wars together. How did Luke love his enemy, Darth Vader? Can you think of another great story where someone loved their enemy and helped them?
You loved us when we were still your enemies. Help us to love even those who are hard to love.
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