Loving Your Enemies (Newsletter 5-6)

by Melinda Poitras

“LOVING YOUR ENEMIES SUPERSEDES mere commandment, because your treatment of others is your treatment of Christ.”
She responded, “That is ridiculous. It doesn’t even make sense.” Her remark stopped me dead in my tracks as we stood in her kitchen. Here was a woman born and raised in truth, wrinkling up her nose at the idea I had just expressed. What had I said to garner such a reaction? I repeated, “Just remember, however we treat her, we’re treating Jesus the same way.”

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. (Luke 6:32)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great command¬ment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39)

He tipped the world topsy-turvy, this Jesus of Nazareth. He turned things inside out and put things upside down. He came to the people, all wisdom and love, purity and holiness, depth and goodness, and told them the things they were consumed with were unimportant. He spoke, and they saw that the goals they aspired to attain were not noble. He stretched out His hands and showed them the ways they were doing things—the pomp and circum¬stance, the ceremony and show—were unnecessary. They were overcomplicating things, adding difficulty to their days, facing inconvenience head-on to avoid what was truly hard. It’s easier to stand upon ceremony, to strain under restriction, than to love people you do not like. It is easier sometimes to walk ten miles performing some duty in pompous piety than to listen to someone who bores you drone on and on for ten minutes. It is easier to sacrifice greatly for some noble cause than to stand in the same room with the one who has caused personal heartache. Jesus knew this. So He told them to love their neighbor. When they asked who their neighbor was, He told them that too.

Your neighbors are people who don’t belong to you. They are people on the other side of the street, the other side of the tracks, the people who get on your personal bad side. They’re the ones you won’t benefit from helping, the ones you can’t stand to look at, the ones who will not or cannot ever return the favor—those are your neighbors. The least, the less than, the lost, and the losers who have lashed out at you when you were at your lowest—these are those you are com¬manded to lift up.

God became flesh and came to earth to dwell among us. He told us, “Your neighbor is your enemy, and what you do to your enemy, you do to Me.”

Standing in the kitchen with my friend that day, grappling with the prin¬ciples of His Word, I felt the full weight of it. Forgive me, but it isn’t fun. This concept is difficult to condense into words, leaving more questions than answers. If I do to Jesus what I do to others, what have I done to Him? Harbored bitterness in my heart—against Jesus? Refused to be inconvenienced by Him? Written off my Lord and Savior as a lost cause? Turned up my nose and walked right by Him, in His own church?

What if I love Jesus only as well as the person I like the least?
I thought about this Jesus as He walked among men. I thought of how He lived through every principle He left for us to follow. How they stripped, beat, and hung Him high. How His arms would have been outstretched even if they hadn’t been nailed in place. How He prayed for those who persecuted Him, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” How He died for those who scorned Him, how those who scorn Him have sometimes been me and you.

When I do not care for my enemies, do I crucify Him again? When I walk away or write them off, do I leave Him on the cross? I may harbor hate for those who hurt me, but I do so at what cost?
He commands us to love our enemies as He calls us to love Him. Just as nothing separates us from His love, the two cannot be separated. His Words, our hearts, and our enemies are all bound together by the same glue. Underserved love pours out on this topsy-turvy world, just like blood dripping from a cross.

Love poured out without measure.

Love given without merit. Ridiculous love, that doesn’t make sense.