Tough Sayings of Jesus
Love your enemies
Today, on our way to passion week, we begin a 4-part teaching series called “The tough sayings of Jesus.”
Throughout this series we want to navigate our way through some of Jesus’ most challenging declarations- yes, the un-comfortable ones too. Jesus wasn’t just trying to create likes and follows on his social media account when he said controversial or un-comfortable things. He was communicating truth. Guidance and direction for his followers.
Our goal is not to somehow transform these texts into something easier to swallow- They were challenging 2000 years ago when Jesus said them, and they will always be that way, long after this series.Today we begin with “Love your Enemies”
“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,
I think how compact and short this teaching is, essentially 3 words, makes it easy to read over without feeling the weight of its significance.
i.It’s easy to blow past this without taking it into our daily lives.
That’s really what we want to do within this teaching and within this series.
Slow down. Reflect. Pray. Repent
The word for love here is agapao (Ah-gah-pa-oh)
The love Jesus commands of our enemies is active, pursuing, seeking the good of the other person. Its sacrificial, it’s long suffering, its perseverant.(And this is what might be most important) In its most basic sense- it’s the way God loved YOU.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (while we were opposed to God, disagreeing with him, fighting against him, resisting him), Christ died for us.
He says just a few verses later in 10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
The call of Jesus to love our enemies, is a call that his followers would love others with the same love that they have received through Him.
Jesus is simply saying “love like God”
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?
In the shadow of tough sayings of Jesus, it’s all too easy to offer ourselves a concession.
Something in us wants to appeal to a lesser standard of love. We want to make ourselves feel better by comparison with the world, rather than comparison with God’s truth.
But we have to be careful because Jesus cuts that off immediately in our text. He essentially says “If you love those who you can readily get along you’re showing no signs of being a true disciple”
Perhaps the greatest challenge of this text is that Matthew doesn’t take a 6-page sidebar to tell us how we are to apply this truth to every situation we encounter. But what is clear for the follower of Jesus, is that we are to be people of mercy and people who don’t seek vengeance. Our default posture toward our enemies not even to be neutral- its to be an active and gracious love of our enemies.
Over the next few weeks we are going to take a look at a few other challenging sayings of Jesus.
– If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away…
– You cannot serve God and Money
– You must take up your cross and follow me.
The point of all this is not so we all leave feeling terrible about ourselves or think that Jesus sees us as failures- that’s not it at all. We want to hear Jesus’ teaching and yes expectations for his followers so that we might live differently- that we might live our lives as children of the King.
The invitation of following Jesus is to be transformed, to live a radically different life. A radical life where you love even your enemies…
Will you humble yourself before this tough teaching of Jesus and his love to define your relationships?Giving at COTN
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