REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of May 30, 2021
Love Your Enemies: Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27
We are in Week 17 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.31: Love Your Enemies. If there’s anything we all need to hear in this time of turmoil, it is the admonition to love our enemies.
As we’ve seen throughout our journey down this ancient path, so much of what we are called to do as followers of Jesus revolves around us reflecting the character of God through actions that also remind us of what God has done for us. This rule of Christian formation is no different. We are called to do more than what this world does, which is love those who love us and think as we do. We are called to love those who don’t love us. In fact, Jesus calls us to love those who actually wish us harm. Why? Jesus calls us to show compassion and love to our enemies because that’s exactly what God has done for us. Romans 5 makes clear that each and every one of us is born as an enemy of God. There’s no such thing as a spiritual Switzerland. Yet, though we are by nature at war with him, God in his grace and mercy chooses to love us anyway. And God’s love is not a distant, abstract love—he doesn’t love us from afar. He sent his Son, Jesus, to live among us and suffer abuse from us—to the point of death—so that we might be redeemed and reconciled to him. God’s love is not theoretical. It is real and tangible in Jesus Christ. And when we love our enemies as he has loved us, we carry on that ministry of reconciliation that was initiated by Christ.
Yet, I think there’s more to this admonition. Certainly, we want to try to win others to Christ through showing them the same kind of love we’ve been shown, but there’s a grace that is imparted to us when we love others who don’t love us in return. You see, because of sin, each and every one of us have to deal with an innate desire to be loved and approved of by others. When we don’t get the approbation we think we deserve, we typically have one of two reactions. First, we assume there is something wrong with the person who doesn’t think highly of us (pride). The second reaction is that of people-pleasing, where we attempt to fix what we think is wrong with us in an effort to gain the approval of another (idolatry). In his love, God has freed us from this slavery. He has freed us to love others unconditionally because we have all the love we could ever need in him. When we find our love and acceptance in God, we no longer need it from others. We are free to be indifferent to how others treat us because we have found our identity in Christ. Whether someone loves us or hates us no longer matters. No matter how someone may view us, we are free to view them solely as an image-bearer of God and share with them the gospel love that has been poured into our hearts.
- How does Christ’s call to love our enemies differ from the world’s view of love?
- Take a moment to consider how God made his love tangible for us in Jesus. Does God’s love feel tangible to you? If it doesn’t, why might that be?
- Consider the two typical reactions we have when we are disappointed by others. Which reaction is your typical default? How has this negatively impacted your life and relationships? How might finding your love and acceptance in Christ assist you with those reactions?