February 2 – Love Your Enemies

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2 – 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, that you may be sons 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? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

I read these words this morning and started giggling a little.  When I think of an enemy, my mind immediately considers the novels I read and movies I watch.  I don’t have any enemies.  I have people who annoy the hell out of me and make me so mad I want to scream, but no real enemies.

One Sunday morning, when Carol and I were living together, she called me back to her bedroom to look at the clothing in her closet.  There was a strange hole in many of the items … it didn't make sense.  We had to scurry to church, but when we got home, we tried to work through the mystery.  Was it a mouse, a snake?  What could have made that strange hole in that strange path.  Then we saw the hole in the window and in the wall behind the clothes and we called the police.

The officer came out and one of the first questions he asked was if we had any enemies, either in our personal lives or from our business?  Both Carol and I were so flabbergasted we didn't know what to say, but we assured him that wasn't the type of people we were.  We simply didn't make enemies.  We might make people nuts, but nothing in our lives would point to someone shooting at us in retaliation.

Jesus goes on to say though, that if we love only those who love us; what good does that do anyone?  If the only friends we have are the people who go to church with us, what good are we in the world?  Even the tax collectors and pagans do that. We are supposed to be better than that.  Jesus says we should be perfect.

Those words have tripped theologians up.  John Wesley was one who looked at that word and explained it so it might make better sense.  Jesus isn't talking about becoming a perfect person in the way we see perfection. He asks us to be on the path of love.  God’s love is perfect love.  In fact … God is love.  God loves us even when we don’t love Him.  God loves sinners and the righteous without fail.  His grace and forgiveness are available to everyone, no matter what.  When it comes to love; God does not judge.  He simply loves.  He is love.

This is the perfection we are called to emulate.  Love … without boundaries, without judgment, without reservation, without strings.  We are to love.

Oh … and that gunshot through Carol’s window?  The duplex is at the top of a T.  Two brothers down the street got mad at each other and were shooting their guns at each other.  They obviously missed and a stray bullet made it up the hill and to the second floor of our place.  A policewoman called me later in the week to let me know what had happened.