Jesus' statement to love our enemies precludes that all of us who are believers should HAVE enemies. If we don't, there is a problem. It most likely means that we have never stood up for the Gospel that we espouse to believe. In this age of "political correctness" we are often terrified to say or do the wrong thing in fear that we will upset someone. Far be it that we might voice our objection regarding someone's mores or life values that smack of ungodliness and wickedness. As we have discussed in previous weeks, it is often a way for folks with questionable behavior to get a "pass" by throwing up in our faces that we should "judge not" any lifestyle choice. In so doing, the mass majority of society will acquiesce to those who scream foul when someone points the finger of objection their way. These have politely turned the other cheek, pretending tolerance in order to "get along". Jesus stated a particular "woe" for these sorts -- for he said that these folks were those who spoke falsely into others lives for the sake of unilateral peace. In so doing, these that would surrender without a voice forfeit their would-be enemies that would rise up to eventually help perfect their faith.
Jesus qualifies in Luke 6 that we will indeed have enemies if we live the life of a true Christ-like believer. He then says something that is totally revolutionary and diametric to conventional thinking. He tells us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who live to mistreat us. Loving those who disagree with us is not an easy undertaking. It is one thing to love those who disagree with us and an entirely different thing to love those who are actively trying to do us physical harm. In many parts of the world, believers are continually persecuted because they have stood up for their faith with a resoluteness that baffles their tormenters. Their persecutors can't understand how someone would give up their property, their liberty, or even their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Yet often these speak not a word in their defense, but they willingly offer their lives as a sacrifice to His glory to the outrage of those who would seek to destroy them. The irony is that when men and women are at their least defensible, then the power of God is there to fortify their weakness and to confound their oppressors.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a master at addressing the subject of loving your enemies, for he truly made it a life vocation. The following is an excerpt from a sermon that he delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 17 November 1957 on the subject of loving your enemies:
And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, "Love your enemy." And it’s significant that he does not say, "Like your enemy." Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, "Love your enemy." This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.Dr. King's admonition still rings true nearly 60 later. There will always be those who don't agree with us or dislike us or even hate us for what we believe. We must not cower or bow down to anyone's beliefs or their lack of moral fiber in the face of the Gospel. Yet, we must always counter their hostility with the love of Christ, or as Dr. King puts it, the "agape (God's love) in your soul". The only way to perfect this love in our dealing with others is to practice it. One does not get to a place of "judgmental love" toward someone unless it is flowing out of them from the Holy Spirit. For truly, judgments are a part of life and we make them all day long. What a lost world is looking for are men and women with Godly character to judge unrighteous behavior accordingly, yet with a Divine love that offers the other cheek with a joyful deliberateness. The political-correctness in our present world seeks to destroy Godly standards, thereby eliminating all our enemies that are essential to all of us who believe. Let none of us lack the opportunity to learn to love our enemies by having no enemies due to our own acquiescence. Let us all know that the enemies of the cross of Christ will always exist until His return. It is our responsibility to know them, to judge them righteously, and to love them with only the love that our Savior can bestow.
Lord Jesus, show us our enemies. Help us to know and to love our enemies, praying for these and telling them of the love of Jesus Christ. May they also become Friends of the Bridegroom by our words of truth bathed in love. In Your holy name we pray, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,