Loving People You Don’t Like Is Really Love

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Jesus commands us to love our enemies, but we don’t know how to give love until we’ve experienced it firsthand from God.

Loving people you like is easy. Loving people who are easy to love is a cinch. But loving your enemies? That’s a challenge. But it’s a challenge given by Jesus when He said, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NLT)

The basic minimum requirement that the world expects of us is that we be loving when it’s easy, but Jesus’ new Kingdom ethic is far more challenging. He provokes us to accept people unconditionally, return deeds for evil, speak kind words in response to unkind, and to pray for our enemies. Not only is this kind of challenge revolutionary in a world which stops at the bare minimum of keeping the score even, it’s downright impossible to do without the influence of the gospel.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus was really challenging us to do things that are impossible for us to do on our own. He even closed out this sermon with a command to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How do we ever even approach that standard? We don’t. At least, not the way we are naturally. And that’s the point.

In the gospel, the good news of Jesus, is the story of absolutely unconditional love, which is a kind of love we don’t know how to give until we’ve experienced it firsthand from God. But once we’ve experienced it – once we’ve been accepted as citizens of God’s kingdom by way of the cross – we now have the capability of loving as Jesus loves. By being born again, by inheriting the Holy Spirit’s constant presence, we can come to love even our enemies in light of the cross.

Who do you need to love today? Who needs to go on your prayer list? Who’s your “enemy” that you’d love to see become a friend of God?

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