God has not stopped reminding and instructing me on this lesson, and I feel compelled to continue to explore what I’m learning here with you.
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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Matthew 5: 43-47
My first post on this topic cited Romans 12 and the idea that in meeting the needs of your enemy you will heap burning coals on his head. While killing an enemy with kindness certainly has its appeal, I don’t think that’s God’s heart here.
Enemy-Loving as Evangelism
In fact, I am beginning to see this call to love your enemies as a powerful form of evangelism. God does not love based on who is most deserving. What would it look like if, through God’s grace, you and I also sought to recklessly love those who:
- cut you off in traffic
- treat you with contempt for no reason
- rip you off
- lie to you or about you
I indulge this list in the hope of bringing to mind a specific person or recent situation. If you’re like me you won’t have to dig too far into the past for a relevant point of reference.
Keeping it Real
The linchpin to this entire loving thing is authenticity. It’s not enough to simply “act” as you think love would…although that is a fantastic place to start.
The surprising truth is that love is a decision; when we consistently decide to show love to another human being our feelings inevitably follow.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15
What better way to provoke unbelievers to ask why you do what you do — why you are so different from the world — than to love the unlovable. What if you were the first person in “your enemy’s” life to respond with good instead of retribution? What if you didn’t stop where world stops, but pushed through, on the power of God’s Spirit, to see a child of God in each face, to see a heart broken and in need of Christ’s healing in each act of hate, anger or cruelty?
As you open your heart to this instruction of God’s, it inevitably begins to shape your worldview, and you’ll soon discover a genuine desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those children who are lost and hurting in an often cruel world.
The most powerful example of this in my life right now are friends of our family who are moving to a place in which 99 percent of the population is Muslim and evangelism is a crime. They are doing this with a simple and singular purpose:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
Theirs is the boldest response to God’s call that I’ve encountered first-hand in my life. My friend and his family have challenged and inspired me by their example to seek out the simple opportunities every day to love others well.
What would it look like if the next time you were in the checkout line and the clerk was surly you blessed her with a smile and a kind word?
Or what if you started buying two lattes every morning and giving one to someone in need of a lift?
What if you set aside your motivations related to what you deserve in favor of giving to others what they don’t deserve?
Out of gratitude for a Father who has done that and so much more for us, will you ask the Lord to put someone in your path today on whom you can pour abundant, undeserved grace?
(And then feel free to come back and share the experience here! I’d love to hear about it.)