Matthew 5:43-48 / Luke 6:27-36…
As if Jesus had not already proven the nature of the self-righteous, and how it does not conform to the spirit of the Law, now He truly steps up as our only hero and asks the impossible.
The religious leaders had taken a positive part of the Law and twisted it to mean something it did not (Leviticus 19:18). They had inferred something that wasn’t there. Now Jesus uses this to bury the spiritually dead. They had taken the “love your neighbor” to then imply that they didn’t have to love those who weren’t “neighbors” and so therefore that they could hate their enemies. Jesus goes three steps further. He says that not only should they not hate their enemies, but they are not just to disregard them either. In fact they are to love them, an active thing. Not attack, and not abandon, but actively love them. Pharisees ancient and modern may be able to pretend that they meet the other standards. But not this one, this one stops all the vain talk. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one thing, but love your enemies?
We are to bless those that curse us (Proverbs 25:21-22 / Romans 12:20-21). As we become conformed to the image of Christ, this command should become true in our lives. However, this is the one area where no one can even pretend that they have met the standard of Jesus every single time. The world does not teach us this, our nature does not follow this, and even as Christians we must be reminded of this. We aren’t born to do it, we’re not taught to do it, and we don’t want to do it. We don’t want enemies at all, but when they come on the sake of Christ, we want to protect ourselves and strike, rather than humble ourselves and submit. Even if we remain passive we still are not usually of the mind to pray for our persecutors. This is why we are told we must deny ourselves and renew our minds.
We can make major progress along this line, but we cannot hope in this life to fulfill this command in our hearts. When we are born again, we can live out from the same essence as God and become mature, and make this command a vital part of our lives. However, in this life, we cannot be perfect. Thanks to God that Jesus seeks out those who hate Him, and He pours His love out on them (Romans 5:8-10).
Is He your hero, or do you still dream for yourself?