“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Mt 5:43-48
Scripture and tradition. They often go together to form a theology that is a little right and a little beyond. In this case it is the added portion. The Scriptures clearly say to love your neighbor (Lev 19:18), but it was later inferred/implied/added “hate your enemy.” This is nowhere in Scripture. But regardless, Jesus wants to flip it all on its head.
Clearly everyone loves those who love them. We call these people “friends.” But loving those who don’t like us, are not like us and/or want nothing to do with us…that’s different. Jesus says love them. AND he goes beyond this.
Love your enemies. Enemies are not just people we don’t like, they are people that directly and emphatically opposed us. They threaten us in some way. They are dangerous.
But even in this there is a kindness of God. Yes, he hates evil. Yes, he brings judgment. But He also brings them sun to enjoy and rains to water their crops. There is a kindness of God even to his worst enemies. Perhaps we would do well to remember that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). If it led us to repentance, it may also move our enemies.
So now to the grit of real life. I can’t say this has ever been much of an issue…until the past 2 years. Right now I have been praying blessing. It’s not hard as I truly see it as God’s genius way to change a situation. But the kindness part. I want to show kindness. I want to think kind thoughts. I want to be kind. I’m not there yet. I pray the Lord will soften my heart. Otherwise I will not be any different than the evil people in the world.
Like everything the Scriptures are so wonderful, wise and heart-warming until they get into the grit of life and then they become real. And still wise, wonderful and heart-piercing. May we do as the Scripture say and continually be “perfect,” or ever-maturing in the process.