Love Your Enemy
This can be hard. This needs divine love, agape.
We are expected to love our sister and brother.
Jesus taught to love the person who lives near us, those we come across in life, our neighbour. In our culture that might not be expected, but it's reasonable.
But loving our enemy is different!
How can we love someone who is against us and has hurt us?
Forgiveness and debt
Jesus taught us
Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who sin against us.
Some people owe us something, because they have taken something from us. They may have stolen our joy, our homes or even our childhood. They have sinned against us.
If God has forgiven us so much, who are we not to forgive others?
If Jesus could forgive the Roman soldiers as they were executing him, recognising that they didn’t know what they were doing and who they were killing, then we too can forgive others.
I have had the privilege of making many friends who are refugees and have had to flee from persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
I have heard stories of being in prison in Tehran and Shiraz, of solitary confinement, torture and of being confined in metal, shipping containers in Eritrea. All Christians, who have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
I know people who escaped from Qaqoush hours before ISIS overran the city, of friends who have seen their entire district in Mosul destroyed by war. People who have not just lost their homes, but everything they owned and even their way of life.
Personal stories of a brother sent from Kabul to murder his own sister, of a father in Baghdad disowning his son, of a mother in Bradford declaring her daughter is dead to her, and of a brother and son being killed in Iran.
I have heard all these stories directly from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
It may be hard, but these are Christians, who know God's forgiveness and so know they have to forgive those who persecuted or rejected them.
I have also heard stories of FGM by own family members and of women being raped in war-torn parts of the DRC. Crimes against their own bodies.
Love your Enemy
Again Jesus helps us forgive our enemies,
to pray a blessing on them,
even to show them love.
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour 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 the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the righteous.
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 v 43 - 47
Martin Luther King Jr preached on this text in Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on November 17, 1957.
Here are two quotes from this message.
...you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does...
Hate destroys the hater, as well as the hated
Martin Luther King jr
However, this doesn't mean that we should stay in an abusive relationship.
We never need to accept physical, sexual or mental abuse.
That person needs help, and by leaving, they may get the help they need.
If you are being abused, then you are not the one to save them.
The loving thing to do, may be to leave.
Such Love isn't Easy
To love someone who has sinned against us can be hard.
We first need to know the love and forgiveness that comes from our Father and from the Son. We need to be healed by Our Lord and to be filled with His love by the Holy Spirit.
Then we need to forgive.
Then we can pray a blessing.
Then we can love our enemies.
That can be hard, and it can take time.
But as a Christian, this is not an option. It is fundamental to The Way of Christ.
We may need help and prayer from others.
We need to keep forgiving on a daily basis.
But we can do it, because He has first forgiven us.
You can read more about how he first loved us
What is Love?
Hear about being filled with The Holy Spirit
Read a powerful dream of rescue from enemies
A gentle song, sweetly sung. Faithful to the words of Christ.
Contemplative Christian music