Civil War battle
May 21, 2024 relationships / religion 0 Comment

Love your Enemies…and pray for those who persecute you. [Matthew 5:43-48]

We read in the Bible, in Matthew 5:43-48, that Jesus spoke to His disciples and admonished them by explaining that it is easy to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but to be children of God, you are commanded to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Jesus described heavenly justice as perfection. Jesus spoke of the equality of all in the eyes of God when He spoke of God the Father who “….makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Jesus said that the greater reward goes to those who suffer on His account. Those who love their enemies just as they love their friends will also gain a greater reward in heaven, as do the peacemakers, the merciful, the meek and the poor in spirit, as Jesus told us in the Beatitudes documented earlier in Matthew 5.

So what does loving our enemies look like in our world today?

A great case in point is the Israeli-Palestinian war. The media has done everything possible to foment disagreement and force us all to take sides in the conflict. Some say the Palestinians were righteous in attacking Israel because of past offenses; some say Israel has a right to defend itself because of terrorist attack on October 7th. The whole point of the media frenzy is to bend us all to evil and to lead us all into the inevitable spiral down into the depths of hate where we can all enjoy the stinking atmosphere of hell.

Instead, let’s be perfect, “as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

You say that no one is perfect. Maybe so, but everyone is free to act out of hate or out of love. It is easy to imagine what hate looks like because we see so much more evidence of hate in our world. We see people dehumanizing others. We see wonton killing and massacres. We see those who diminish others who do not agree with them. And we witness those in authority depriving segments of the population, their enemies, of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, while they protect others, their friends, from prosecution for crimes against humanity. We see it all on display in our everyday lives and the lives of those who attempt to lead us to the truth and are persecuted for speaking the truth.

It may be easier than we think. Living with the intent of perfection means living in imitation of Jesus and doing everything for the glory of God.

With regard to war and armed conflict: be a peacemaker.

Treat enemies and friends alike, with love and respect. Pursue love: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13.

Does this mean you have to hang out with your enemies, encourage their wicked deeds, or accompany them in their lies or celebrate depravity? Absolutely not. That will only bring them down. You want to raise everyone up! Jesus invited everyone to follow Him, not just the devout.

Raising others up is easier done with friends of course because enemies will try to control, mislead and even eliminate you. They will try to deceive and trick you and convince you that there is no meaning to life and there is no God. That’s why we have to be vigilant and discerning in our relationships, our companions and our alliances. Trust only what comes from God. Share the truth of God’s love with enemies and friends alike, no matter the reaction. It helps to have a little courage.

Honorable ends never justify evil means and we will be judged all of our works, so maybe we are challenged to be more creative when it comes to battle with the enemy. Wisdom, creativity, charity and virtue are all of God. Deceit, duplicity, manipulative games, lies, and propaganda are the tools of the evil one. Using the tools of our enemies to defeat them only makes us more like them, thus giving them more power over us, as we expand their ranks.

Using fire to fight fire only makes the blaze larger and the destruction more widespread. So don’t make things worse. Make things better.

By now, you may think I am simplifying things too much. I prefer simple.