LOVING YOUR ENEMIES
I love comic-based superhero movies. Spider-Man is a favorite because of the action scenes. However, it’s also about seeking revenge. Peter Parker wanted to kill Flint Marko (a.k.a Sandman) to avenge his Uncle Ben’s death. Harry Osborne attacked his bestfriend Peter to avenge his father Norman Osborne (a.k.a Green Goblin). And Eddie Brock (a.k.a Venom) wanted to seek revenge for Peter’s humiliation of him. One film, three revenges.
Hollywood films, and the rest of the world, tells us that hating our enemies and seeking revenge is okay. The Bible says otherwise. In fact, Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies!”
I find this one of the most outrageous sayings of Jesus. it’s counter-cultural in a world where everybody tries to get even. It’s also mind-boggling to have the words “love” and “enemies” in the same phrase.
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells His disciples to love their enemies (v. 27). The word love (agapao) is the highest form of love, a committed kind of love. This is the same love that we are to give God and the people around us (Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27). This is the same love that God has for the world, that made Him give His one and only Son, Jesus (John 3:16). This is the kind of love that we are to show our enemies.
Who are these enemies? These are the people who hate us (v. 27), curse us (v. 28), and abuse us (v. 28). In other words, they are anyone we are in conflict with.
Why did Jesus command this to His disciples? During Jesus’ time, there was a popular teaching to “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (Matthew 5:43). “Loving your neighbor” is taken from Leviticus 19:18 and is also taught in the New Testament (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27; Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). But we don’t know where the “hating your enemy” came from. Some commentators say that the religious leaders just added it to justify their hate. Jesus dismantles this false teaching by telling His disciples, “Love your enemies.”
Loving our enemies is indeed a radical teaching. Its not natural. It is counter-cultural. In other words, it’s difficult—if not totally impossible. Many times, we even try to justify our vengeance and hate, just like the religious leaders.
So how are we to love our enemies? Jesus tells us to “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (vv. 27b-28).
What happens when we love our enemies? In verses 32-34, Jesus points out that if we only love those who love us, then we are no different from the world. But when we also love our enemies, we show to the world that we are different. We prove to the world that we children of God (v. 35b).
3 THOUGHTS ON LOVING YOUR ENEMIES
- Forgive. First things first. The Bible tells us to forgive, as the Lord has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). When we disobey or put this off, we are just storing-up anger and bitterness. We end up hurting and destroying ourselves. Forgiveness liberates us.
- Make reconciliation a priority. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” If you have offended someone, go and be reconciled to that person. Make it a priority, even higher than corporate worship.
- Remember the gospel. We are sinners and have rebelled against a holy God, making us enemies of God (Romans 5:10). But because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we can be reconciled to Him. And why would Jesus die for His enemies? It’s because of love and grace (Romans 5:8).
Loving our enemies is no easy task. But we have to remind ourselves of Jesus. He sets us an example to follow. He loved those mocked, flogged, and crucified Him, even forgiving them at the cross (Luke 23:34). And ultimately, He loved us, who were once His enemies.
The reason why we can love our enemies is because Jesus loved His.
Writer’s Bio: Enzo Cortes is a student-volunteer for Christ’s Commission Fellowship’s (CCF) youth ministry. He is active in reaching out to the students from Taft Schools. He also handles a small group of male college students and mentors them on Christian living and leadership. Enzo enjoys speaking for youth and young adult groups, inspiring them to live Christ-centered lives. He loves to write blogs, read Christian books and blogs, run long miles, drink coffee, and eat donuts. This article was originally from the author’s blog at enzocortes.com