“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27–28)
In our pursuit of “waging peace” – being peacemakers in a world of conflict – we eventually have to come to grips with loving the unlovely. It’s not too difficult to love the people we like…or the people like us…or the people who agree with us.
But what about loving people we don’t like. Those were the folks Jesus was talking about in Luke 6:27-28.
How do we walk this out? How do we love our enemies?
First, Jesus commands us to “do what is good” to the haters. We can’t preach the good news and be the bad news. We can’t respond to their bad attitudes with bad attitudes of our own. As Michelle Obama reminds us: When they go low, we go high.
Next, Jesus commands us to “bless those who curse” us. The word “bless” (eulogeo) literally means “to speak well of.” Obviously, this takes an outpouring of God’s grace in our lives – because our natural response is to defend ourselves – to criticize and point out faults of our opponents. David gave some good advice: “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).”
But listen, we can do it. Jesus promised: “Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”” (Luke 12:11–12, CSB)
Finally, Jesus tells us to “pray for those who mistreat you.” When we stop seeing them as our enemies, but enemies of Christ (just as we once were)…when we begin to realize their unloveliness is due to their hurt and bondage…then we can compassionately pray. Not that God will smite them, but for God to reconcile them to himself and meet those deep needs they have in life.
Let’s talk more about this difficult subject. I hope you’ll join us Sunday for “Loving the Unlovely.” New Life meets in person and online.
Can’t wait to see you!