Two weeks ago as I learned the news about Bin Laden's death, I wrote a blog post on my feelings. I did so because something just didn't seem Christian about the all the rejoicing over his death. As I studied this past week for my message on Matthew 5:43-48, I was struck once again that the Christian response to our enemies should be LOVE, not revenge (you can listen to it HERE).
Jesus begins this section by reminding them that they had always been taught that the law of God was to love your neighbors, but hate your enemies. Now, that first phrase we get. But that second one is a gross addition to the OT law. You will never find it in any section of the OT. Sure, there were some who hated those that hated God, but we are never told to respond individually to those who are our enemies with hatred.
There are many reasons why I think they arrived at this point in their law. But the most important point is remember how easy it is for sinful man to twist and manipulate the Bible to say what they want it to say in order to serve them. They sought to do everything they could to limit the law of love instead of expanding it. In Luke 10, a lawyer comes to Jesus and asks Him about the nature of the law and inheriting eternal life. Jesus responds by telling him to love God with everything and love his neighbor as himself. He responds by asking "who then is my neighbor?" That question is asked from a heart of wanting to do just enough to get by.
Of course, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that it is not about hating your enemy, but loving them. If someone has done something wrong to you; if they have hurt you physically; if they have offended you or your family; if they have made it their point in life to attack you personally--the response by the person of the Kingdom is to love them sacrificially. And of course, this makes no sense in our world today. One person has said, "to return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine."
Jesus gives us two reasons why we should love like this. First, Loving Our Enemies Displays The Heart Of Our Father (vs. 45). God loves without limits and so when we love without limits, we are displaying to everyone that we are like our Father in heaven. Jesus refers to what is known as "Common Grace." It is God's favor poured out to all people, regardless of their spiritual status. He rains on the righteous and unrighteous. He shines sun on the wicked and holy. Even though we both deserve nothing, He continues to bless. And when we love those that do not deserve it, we are showing that we are like our Father.
Second, Loving Our Enemies Shows We Are Different (vs. 46-47). When we love those that love us, what's the big deal? So does everyone else. Even tax collectors and Gentiles love those that love them. The key phrase Jesus uses is in vs. 47, "what more are you doing than others?" If people were to look at the way in which we love others, would they say they are normal, just like everyone else? Or would they say we are radical. There is no explanation to why we should love that person. That's where we want to be, for sure!
Love your enemies and do good to those that hate you!