“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. . . .’”
This is the hardest command I know. Love my enemies?
Yet this truly is Jesus’ command for you and me. It gets to the heart of the good news of Jesus. It shows that God’s love in Christ undermines our naturally sinful and broken way of life.
An enemy is, by definition, someone we hate. Christ overthrows this by replacing our natural hatred with his supernatural love.
We cannot possess such love without Christ. I can’t; you can’t. On my own, I will keep on hating people who have hurt me, or whom I think are despicable. I do not have the capacity to love my enemies, but Christ does.
In Romans, Paul writes that “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). This verse is a short summary of salvation in Christ. We were once the enemies of God, but Christ reconciled us to God so that now we are friends.
Christ reconciled an entire world-full of enemies to God. So he can surely handle the reconciliation needed between me and my enemies. But I will have to ask him for that supernatural love. It will take a prayer something like this:
O God, in my own strength I cannot forgive or love my enemies. Give me the love that Jesus showed by dying to pay for my sin when I was your enemy, and help me to reconcile with my enemies for Jesus’ sake. Amen.