Loving At Its Hardest
I trust in You, my God. Show me the right path; point out the road for me to follow.
Read Luke 6:27-36
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
If there is someone who has behaved like an enemy towards you, think of them now, and read this passage again with their name in mind.
This passage marks the dividing line between Christianity and every other way of life—we’re to love our enemies. This injunction makes no sense at all in the world’s eyes. What Jesus is urging is not just non-retaliation, where we don’t hit back or go for vengeance. He’s asking us to make ourselves utterly vulnerable to someone who hates us or treats us as an enemy. There can surely be nothing more risky than responding to evil with love.
But we shouldn’t misunderstand the motive behind these actions. It is not so that an abuser can violate us further. Jesus isn’t giving permission for someone to act unjustly or cruelly. Rather, he’s urging us to live out the maxim of treating others the way we would like to be treated ourselves (31), and this is far from foolish. If I behave badly towards someone else, it is an enormous relief to discover that they are not going to hold it against me or try to get even. When they don’t recite my wrongs, nurse the injury, tell everyone what a terrible person I am, but “turn the other cheek,” they relate to me in a way that hides their woundedness and gives me space to reflect. It diffuses my anger. It helps me to face what I have done. It increases the likelihood that I will see my guilt, and experience the pain of remorse.
None of this makes loving our enemies easy. Suppose the enemy doesn’t repent? Suppose evil triumphs and our offer of love is abused? What then? The answer is that then we begin to understand just how radical is Christ’s love for us, and how demanding is the way of the cross. We also realize that we have to leave the final outcome to God.
“Love is patient; love is kind … it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:4,5). Ask God for more of this love, especially toward any “enemies.”
Loving Father, I need Your love implanted in me. I want to live a life of adventurous caring, losing myself in service to others.
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