Monday, August 8, 2011

Love Your Enemies?

Sometimes the scriptures surprise me.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that I'm really to live the way that He did.

He said that this is how we know what love is...

"Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters." (1 John 3:16)

Phew! I would gladly lay down my life for those who have been kind to me, for those who have lavished an unconditional love on me.

But then in church this Sunday he went on to point out that Jesus takes it a million steps further and He calls us to actually love those who hate us, to love our enemies.

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." (Luke 6:35) (He makes the same command here, and here)


He uses the same word in describing His great love for us as He does when He commands (not suggests, bummer :) that we love our enemies.

And when I think about it, well, why wouldn't He? I mean that's exactly what He did. He laid down His life for His enemies.

In this life, many of us, we carry deep wounds. How can it be then that we are to actually lay down our lives for the folks that have punctured us the deepest?

And yet the Lord Himself receives the most glory in us when we allow Him to do the seemingly impossible through our humble obedience, despite our understanding.

I read once, many years ago in the newspaper, about an Amish community that publicly forgave the man who came into their schoolhouse and shot dead several of their children.

I can imagine that there were many who heard that story and thought that community to be simply foolish for offering such grace to someone completely undeserving. But the Word is clear about that too...

"The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

But for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see (acts 28:27)... Do we have any idea what an impact such forgiveness has on a nation? On a family?

It's hard in this world to see like Christ sees. The world tells of how we must always be looking out for ourselves. How we must protect our own hearts from further pain. And for so many years I've lived that way. I gravitate towards the folks who will sympathize with my brokenness. But after listening on a Sunday morning, I'm starting to think that although the world's way is much more comfortable to me, I'm no longer sure that it's biblical.

He concluded our morning with the story of a woman who's son had been shot and killed by some guy's carelessness. The woman sought out her son's killer and not only forgave him, but built a life-long relationship with him and now they are neighbors.

There's that old children's song that talks of how the world will know that we are Christians by our love. If our love looks exactly like the world's how then will they know? But if it looks like Christ's, love in the least likely places... how then, will they not know?

Since the first Sunday that I started walking through this life with these folks, I have not once walked away the same woman that I was before I sat in that little chapel. If you'd like to be blessed and challenged to be more like Him, no matter the cost.... then grab a cup of coffee and get comfy on the couch...