“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.
As the Lord continues to stretch our imaginations, deflate our pride, knock down our fears and bend our wills towards His Will, we can never forget that he always leads by example. His words have meaning because he lived them.
The Saints too are either the biggest fools or the greatest of heroes, for they too took Christ’s words and put them into action.
How did the Lord do it? How did he get to loving his enemies? How did he obtain so much self-confidence and self-control? Christ was one person with two natures: human and divine. How did these two natures ever become one person? I believe the answer is simple: he took baby steps, and the rest is salvation history!
1) Christ loved his own. He loved his people. Although his own rejected him, he did not reject them. He never denied who he was. He was first and foremost a Jew, of the house of David. His Kingship rightly belonged to Him. He did not deny his very being. He did not start up his own “church”. He did not become a competing rabbi. His followers did not choose Him. He chose them! He never intended to divide his people. He also never expected to be rejected! The Church exists because the cornerstone has been rejected. The early Christians were thrown out of the synagogues. They did not choose to leave, they were forced out! Our separated Christian brethren must live with the fact that they chose to picket – to protest, rather than to reform from within and to seek holiness within the bride and body of Christ.
2) The Lord loved the strangers and the foreigners. He walked among them, he even welcomed their company. He went to their towns and they begged him to stay with them. He reluctantly gave these dogs the tiny crumbs from Heaven, and they were satisfied! The Lord was so moved by their devotion and love that He was more than willing to enter into their homes but they refused – they considered themselves unworthy to receive Him!
3) Christ loved the unlovable. Yes, he sought the love of the scum of the earth – the sick and the sinners. He touched the lepers and healed them. He touched the hearts of tax collectors and healed them too. He loved the adulterous woman, seeking her tears and repentance and got both! He took the hearts of the unwanted, the undesirables; the filthy and rejected and did something that had never been done before: he made them clean again – all new – welcomed them into His home.
4) Finally, the Lord was ready to take on his greatest task ever: to love his enemies. This is his greatest accomplishment, and he continues to be successful even today. His words of forgiveness, mercy and love surprised and rattled his betrayer and his executioners! His words of love, at his finest moment, continue to be unique in the study of world religions. He alone said them. He alone first lived them. And to all of those who would follow Him, he alone commanded them.