Now the bar is raised even further. In the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:43-48 NET)
Wow, it’s one thing to “love” someone we may like but now we must also extend love to those who are considered our “enemy” and those who “persecute” us. Ouch, this Living Community is really getting tough now. The point is… Can we love the unlovely? Can we love the wicked? Can we love those who mistreat us? Can we love those we do not like?
In our passage from 1 John, our evident love is the seal that sets us apart. Verse 1 says “Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life…” John is saying that the proof of Christ’s redemption of our sins, our very salvation bought through His death, burial ,and resurrection, is shown to others through our ability to love one another. Wow, what an amazing, and truthfully painful, thought. Better yet, can I live this? it is so much easier to hate our enemies, to dislike those who take advantage of us, or to repay evil for evil.
After all, our cultural mandate seems to be to get all I can while I can so don’t go getting in my way. And looking out for number one is our prima facie obligation…