What’s the difference between a friend and an enemy?
Jesus said a lot of hard things. But maybe the hardest thing he ever said was 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 on the Mount, 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.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven… 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In the Old Testament God had commanded his people to “love your neighbor.” But God’s people thought this was simply too hard to do, so they decided that they only had to love the people that looked and acted like them. In fact, everyone else was their enemy, and they were allowed to “hate their enemy.”
But then Jesus came along and said something that has never been said before – Love your enemies. He also said that 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.
But what about us? Can we really love our enemies? Yes, we can. 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 we can love our enemies. How? By always remembering that we are loved by God. When we know that God loves us no matter what, then 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 beloved children.
With Jesus we can love our enemies just like he does.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Make a plan to be nice to someone new this week. How can you make a new friend?
Jesus, you loved us when we were still your enemies. Help us to love others who are hard to love too. Amen.