These are famous words from Jesus,
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5
Not only are these words famous, they are virtually non-existent in Christianity today. How you ask? Look at the religious world around you. Do you not see it? Churches supporting politicians thinking that passing laws will ensure righteousness, pastors campaigning for certain issues to preserve their religious institutions out of fear that degrade and belittle people, congregations praying for God to destroy their enemy in wars as if their position is the right one, and….the big one….denominations fighting against other denominations over who has a better understanding of God, which is pride and arrogance. Do we see love coming from us as christians or do we see hatred and accusations? You know…”to prove I’m right and your wrong about God”.
This is a touchy subject because I don’t understand why the Body of Christ would not be the first to renounce this aggressively religious and political posturing and proclaim the Kingdom of God as the display of true love manifest here on earth. To say that all of this man made stuff we are fighting for, which is literally destroying people, is worth it is crazy! It needs to be set aside and we need to pursue after the Kingdom of God, which when it comes in its fullest will erase the kingdoms of this world…even the one we live in here in America.
What God is doing in His new creation is ripping out the selfish desire that is never fulfilled, because we are greedy, and showing us a new way that brings Life….Life that is other-centered and self-sacrificial. This Life was shown to us by the Life of Christ who walked and demonstrated absolute love for you and me. In fact it was demonstrated knowing that He would be killed. Why? Because the world hates true love that lays down it’s own life for another. This is at the heart of the Kingdom of God. This is what sets Jesus apart from any other religious system that we can think of. The non-violent actions of Jesus show true love in that He did not defend Himself, He did not call an army to save Him, and He was obedient to show the world the genuine and loving character of the Father, even though He knew He would be killed for it. This is the example for us to follow…so are we? Jesus said these words knowing that He would demonstrate them later on,
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we talked about this more in our churches? Wouldn’t it be nice if we gathered together in love for each other and talked about laying our lives down in love for others? God has come to show us He is love and that living in the Kingdom of God is all about us coming into an understanding of that love and allowing it to over take us that we can be free from sin that keeps us from loving others. So, are we really walking in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 when we stand for religion, politics, or even denominations? That’s a great question for all of us to ask ourselves every single day….