Love for Enemies

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Love your enemies

Matthew 5:43-48

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This gospel is both beautiful and challenging. Jesus begins by reminding his disciples of the importance of love. He says to them: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour..."
It's a principle that none of us would disagree with. We all know the value of love and its power to change our lives. Yet it's clear from Jesus' words that he expects more from his followers than loving where we are sure the love is returned. He goes on to say: "But I say to you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

This is the point where the principles of the kingdom take us beyond what is humanely possible. It's one thing to love those who love us back. To extend that love to those we consider enemies or who persecute or hurt us is a whole new level of challenge.

It's a call to become Christ like, to imitate the all enduring love of God in our messy lives. It feels impossible because in human terms it is. It only begins to become a possibility when we open ourselves to the gift of God's grace which makes all things possible. Even then it challenges us to leave our comfort zones and step into unknown territory.

Where are you being called to love in challenging circumstances today?

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