““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV
The impossible love of God
If I had to point to the one thing that is the most difficult, if not impossible, without God, I would have to say it is the ability to love ones enemies. The Lord as given me a wonderful opportunity to develop this in my own spiritual life, by putting me in a black man’s body in a country that desires little more than that body to be made dead.
We of the darker hue have no allies, for regardless of the political or social spectrum, we are but pawns in a greater battle between extremes. Both sides desire us to be gone, whether it be by enabled black on black violence, progressive DAs who free violent felons with no bail, efforts to defund police, ongoing police shootings, lynching, or the in-womb lynching called abortion.
Even in the church house, love is limited, as the American church continues to be the most segregated place on earth. We mumble through any mention of love in the Bible, and skip over the verses where we are urged to love without partiality. I have over the years battled bias in and out of the church, often wondering why I even bother.
My only peace, if one can call it that, has come from being surrounded by those who deny what they see and look upon me as an “honorary white person”, as they suspend their sight to be able to tolerate me. Occasionally the veil is torn away resulting in awkward moments of racial realization.
Yet, given all that, I am called to love.
Reading in Matthew chapter five this morning, I was once gain challenged by the most seemingly impossible of God’s commands: “to love your neighbor as yourself.” I think of the the story of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were greatly hated because they were a mix of Israelite and Assyrian, and represented a dark period in Israel’s history.
But the Lord Jesus used a Samaritan in one of his greatest parables.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”
Luke 10:33-35 NKJV
The Lord loves the Samaritans, the ones who can love without bias and do the work of the Lord. When the Lord returns, He will be rewarding those who have loved. Even in the story, there is this promise. He gave the Inn Keeper two days wage. And said he would bring more when he returns. In the time economy of the Bible, a day can be a thousand years and a thousand years a day.
As we move into the end times, all of us will face the impossibility of love as we will be commanded to take the message of the Gospel to people who hate us. I tell you the truth, we will not be able to do this by our own will or power, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of those sent against us will be people that we can easily hate.
In some cases, those who are against God will seek to kill us, to stop us from talking about this Jesus. This is the situation that Paul found himself in, as He ministered. As He instructed the Corinthians, love through the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome and not fail.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we are human beings, all impacted by the same things. We all have the same concerns and the same worries. The advantage comes from our knowing Jesus, being born again followers of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit.
Because we were once sinners, our love for sinners gives us great advantage, in that we take the message of the Gospel with empathy. Our Great God made us all, and He loves all of us perfectly. He does not see our colors, or genders (only two), our nationalities, or our political affiliations.
Let us pray for the ability to love the way that Jesus does. Let us be good Samaritans, seeing people waylaid by sin, and seeking to rescue them. May we be faithful. Let us seek to draw them into the household of faith, where all become one, and all distinctions fade away.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV
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