Thursday, October 31, 2013

Loving our enemies - one of the hard sayings of Jesus (Luke 6:27)

SCRIPTURE: Luke 6:27 (TM)
But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies.

In Context, Mary Marty retells a parable from the Eye of the Needle newsletter: "A holy man was engaged in his morning meditation under a tree whose roots stretched out over the riverbank. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising, and a scorpion caught in the roots was about to drown. He crawled out on the roots and reached down to free the scorpion, but every time he did so, the scorpion struck back at him. "An observer came along and said to the holy man, 'Don't you know that's a scorpion, and it 's in the nature of a scorpion to want to sting?' "To which the holy man replied, 'That may well be, but it is my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?"  

This is one of those hard sayings of Jesus. Most of us, if not all of us, would have preferred that he not include this concept in his teachings. “Love your enemies.” Really? Well, Jesus hasn’t met our enemies! Right?

Our enemies are mean spirited. Our enemies flies planes into buildings. Our enemies poison the water of public opinion. Our enemies work to destroy everything we have built. Our enemies would rather shoot us instead of talk to us. Love our enemies? Really now Jesus get real!

But Jesus doesn’t quantify his instructions. He does not indicate that there are certain enemies that we should love and other enemies that we will be permitted to seek their destruction. Jesus doesn’t suggest that we can have a column A and column B for the different types of enemies. Jesus just lumps them all together under one heading… and says, “love them”.

OUCH… that is hard. It is more than hard, it is actually difficult… extremely difficult… almost impossible… and knowing our enemies it is totally and completely impossible. That’s the point of Jesus’ teaching, especially when we realize that God never asks us to do something that we can do.

The only way we can love our enemies is by the power and the authority of the Holy Spirit. We cannot accomplish this on our own. We need God to make it happen. Try as we may we will always fail if we try to do it on our own. God always asks us to do the impossible so that we are forced to rely on him.

So, love our enemies? Yes, indeed. With God, through God, because of God, and by God’s grace the love shall be given.

And the world will be a better place… and shall we!


God, you ask some very hard stuff for us to do in this mean old world. Help us to understand that you created everyone, including our enemies. Help us to understand that Jesus died on the cross for everyone, including our enemies. Help us to understand that you love everyone, including our enemies. Help us rely on the Holy Spirit to make Jesus’ instructions a reality in our life and in our world.

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