Jesus and the radical Goodness of God
Wednesday, March, 8, 2017 | 11:14 AM | by Munholland
'You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you, Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons and daughters 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."' (Matt 5:43-45)
This is a profound statement from our Lord which reveals two things about our good God. First, Jesus recognizes that there are 'neighbors' and 'enemies', 'evil' and 'good', 'righteous' and 'unrighteous'. Jesus is not a moral relativist. He uses language to describe the basic bent of people's hearts toward one another or away from one another, toward God or away from God. Jesus doesn't say, 'Hey, they aren't really your enemies. You all basically agree. There are no differences between you.' Rather, Jesus acknowledges the difficulties of people being at odds with one another and with God.
Second, Jesus says that recognizing our real differences is not a reason to hate, but rather, a reason to love and pray for them. Jesus doesn't allow us to use the boundaries to bludgeon people. Jesus demands that we bless our enemies! Jesus wants our enemies - the evil and the unrighteous - to experience the benefits of Christian fellowship, so that they may one day enter into new life in Christ. On a practical level, that means to be kind to those who show no kindness to us; to dialogue in good faith, even when good faith is not extended to us; and to use gentle words, even when harsh words are used toward us.
Following Christ is not for wimps! Far from it! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to imitate our Lord. Paul says, 'God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' (Rom 5:8) Jesus loved us while we were his enemies. And while he was on the cross, Jesus prayed for those who were persecuting him: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'(Lk 23:34) Is there a difficult relationship in your family or at work that is requiring you to love and pray for one who has made himself/herself your enemy? Now is the time to put Christ's reconciling power to the test. Love... Pray... and trust Jesus for the results. We serve a good God who can turn even our enemies into our friends.
Blessed to be a Blessing