Friday, February 18 2022
“I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31)
What Jesus wants you to hear today is about the love and mercy of God. Let’s not start by thinking about who we despise, but look at ourselves. God is compassionate even when we are undeserving. God’s lovingkindness is called hessed in Hebrew. We know this way of being because we know the grace and mercy that God gives to each of us. We are loved with God’s unconditional agape love.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all people, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. The key to loving enemies is to resist the urge toward vengeance. When we show kindness, we provide opportunities for redemption. Love has redemptive power. It has the power to transform and to change both the lover and the beloved. This is our path into the Trinitarian life. The love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, and that same Spirit rests with us, giving us power to love in the face of all kinds of worldly evils.” (A Knock at Midnight p. 49)
Most of us understand the concept of unconditional love. Married couples vow to love one another unconditionally. This understanding of love leads us to the speech of prayer. We pray for those we love and those we don’t love to receive the blessing of God. God asks us to take the radical next step to literally act towards people that hate us with lovingkindness. This is very counterintuitive. Let me approach it in another direction. God’s lovingkindness begins with a deep love of Jesus Christ and the reciprocal love that God gives to us even when we are not deserving at times in our lives. Today’s lesson teaches us that even when we mess up, God loves us deeply. When we walk away, God calls us back and when we come again, God gives us a hero's welcome like the prodigal son received. God is good, all the time.
Love as you are loved by God. Forgive others as you are forgiven. Pray for those that hurt you. Love your enemies and act accordingly. The reward of lovingkindness of those who hate us is that we become the children of the most high. We begin to see the good in all people and in all things. When we love our enemies we possess the redemptive power that can restore individuals and people to the love of God. This power can overcome racism, sexism, and the problems of our day. This power can overcome our divided nation and maybe even our government. Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
In Christ’s love,