Tuesday, April 23, 2013
UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH #6: God Wants Us To Love Our Enemies
In our previous installment of this series we talked about how hard it is for Christians to believe that God really loves filthy sinners like killers and rapists and terrorists.
This article examines a very closely related truth which Christians equally struggle with; the idea that God really wants us to love our enemies too.
Because we can't accept that God would love evil people, it just follows that we can't believe that God would expect us to love them either. Of course, the truth is that God really does love evil people and that means that He really does expect us to do the same.
Even if we can accept this teaching in general, or in theory, it is much more challenging to actually take the step of loving our enemies or sincerely pray for these people to receive forgiveness or mercy or grace.
So, when we see the face of a terrorist or a murderer on the news our first impulse is not to stop and pray for that person to be saved and healed and forgiven. But that is what we should do if we are truly followers of Jesus.
Jesus commanded us specifically and in no uncertain terms to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who hate us. If we are to treat people who directly harm us and hate us like this, how much more should we love and bless those who have harmed others? Especially since the basis for these actions is found in the character of God. In other words, Jesus appeals to the loving and forgiving nature of God as our model for showing this same kind of love and mercy.
"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.” (Matt. 5:44-45)
One of the main reasons that we find it so hard to love our enemies, I believe, is that we're more influenced by our human nature than by our spiritual nature. We also make the mistake of thinking that loving our enemies is equal to approving of their behaviors, but that's not the case. We can show love to people and extend mercy to them without accepting their actions. For example, my wife and I routinely help and serve people who are homeless. Many of them are addicted to heroin or meth. Do we approve of their drug use? Or their prostitution? Of course not. But that doesn't prevent us from showing them love and mercy and extending the grace of God to them.
If we really hope to be ambassadors of Christ to a world full of imperfect people, we must admit that we are among the imperfect, and then we must allow God to fill us with His perfect love for others, especially those who (in our opinion) do not deserve it.
If we stop and think we'll realize that none of us deserves the love and mercy of God, but we all need it very, very much.