Rev. Dr. Don Frazure
In today’s passage, Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies. He tells them that rather than doing to their enemies what the human heart would desire (i.e. punishment, reciprocity, holding a grudge, etc.) that they should do what seems completely counter-intuitive by instructing them to show love toward their enemies (i.e. forgive them, pray for them, go above and beyond for them, etc.) A different message indeed, and one that resonates just as much today as it did 2000 years ago. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to love our enemies and be the counter-cultural people Jesus teaches us to be. There, I’ve said it, I’ve written it so that is good enough, right? It sounds so good to say that we should love our enemies, and because we call ourselves Christians that we, by default, do just that...all the time...without fail...yes... usually...yep... sometimes...sure... uh, occasionally.... WOW, this is not as easy as just saying it and writing it down. This passage is so convicting to me. While I truly do not hate anyone, and I don’t believe I have anyone that I could call a personal enemy, I have, however, been hurt by people. There are people who have hurt those whom I love. My heart has been broken by the actions of others that have caused pain in my life and in my family. There are people with whom I shared trust with, but they abused and broke that trust with me. I’ve had people speak ill of me - you can’t lead a church through major transitions in worship style and not expect some people to be unhappy with the changes and take their frustrations out on you. I could go on, but unloading my grief is not what this is about. What this is really about is that I am convicted that Jesus wants me to love each and every one of those people. Does he expect us to be close friends? I don’t believe so, but Jesus does command me to forgive them, to show love toward them, and to pray for them. Now think about this. Can you honestly pray for someone you consider an enemy, until you truly forgive them and, therefore, no longer consider them an enemy? Praying for them is maybe the most difficult thing to do, but I believe it is the greatest evidence of true forgiveness that there is. If I were to make a chart with those I love in one column, and those I consider “enemies” in the other, this passage teaches me that being a disciple of Christ means that I have to do the work of making sure that the names in my enemy column get moved over to my love column. With God’s grace, I pray that I’m always working toward that goal.
Have you ever been unwelcome? Not just denied, but rejected? Jesus made the rejected of his world a priority. Prostitutes, tax collectors, widows, orphans, the sick, and the demon-possessed. The sinners. These were the people that Jesus poured into and cared about. And these are the same people that we should pour into and care about as well. Luke 5:31 – Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke