43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (MSG)
Said another way, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Last week, Jesus gave examples to the crowd of situations in which they were to "turn the other cheek". This week, it is almost as if Jesus preemptively squelches any excuses or "yeah, but's" from the crowd. It's difficult to approach Jesus with a "yeah, but" in this case when talks about how sinners even love those who love them...
Just as in every other portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is calling his followers to (wait for it... wait for it...) be different. Way different. Gasp! No, at this point we should not be surprised.
Rubber, meet road. No excuses. Jesus reminds us who we are, and what we are supposed to do as His children. Enough listening. By now, "we've heard it said" until the cows come home. ;) Now... we must act. We must put that love into practice and live it out.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
You have called me to be different. You have called me to love like you love. You have called me to assume a posture of love toward everyone. Please help me identify those in my life I consciously and/or unconsciously think of as "my enemy"... maybe it's a person... maybe it's a group... maybe it's a whole country. Please help me to pray for them with a sincere heart and help my eyes to see them as my neighbor. Please help my response to be love as you modeled it.
Please continue to join us as we Seek God for the City - 2015. Today we are praying in unity for agricultural workers, for Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, and for God to overcome spiritual death. Let's pray for continued revival.
Challenge: look up a country you are not familiar with. It's easier to pray for someone when you familiarize yourself with them a little.