“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44,45 NIV)
Talk about having a sense of humor! When Jesus told people to do this I can only imagine what they were thinking. “What? Is He nuts? No, He wasn’t–He was simply being who He was and is–Love!
Love–can only produce love, can only ignite love, can only fuel love and while it can be a strain sometimes, to love the unlovable, we can do it when we remember this. The problem with remembering this message is that we are often seduced by a spirit of self-righteousness to think we have to cater to those who hate us and we we do not.
How do I know? When Jesus overturned the tables in the temple because of the farce He saw of hypocrites, He loved them enough to correct them. When parents have rules and instill in their children appropriate behaviors it is because of love. God has established proprieties for all of us and in order to obey Him, we have to love–not be foolish, but care enough about people that we plan no harm, but want to see them in position to receive all that God has for them.
Only an enemy plans harm–love plans care and protection.
Even when we recognize the enemy, we can still love them enough to correct them, redirect their thinking, and treat them courteously, and never lose sight of the rules established to maintain order and consideration of others.
Because people “in general” do not understand the meaning of courtesy and consideration, they often ignore the rules of courtesy and the laws of the land. Discourteous drivers think they are the only ones with the right to drive on the roads, at any time, and to ignore those who also have rights. Discourteous movie-goers have phones ringing and public conversations that interfere with those who have also paid to see the movie to “hear” what’s on the screen. Discourteous people eat at restaurants and never tip their servers appropriately. Discourteous people only think about what they want and never consider the rights of others or give them any consideration. In spite of all this, we can still love–sometimes from afar–and pray that their hearts will be softened to hear God and know Love, so they, too–can love.
Regardless of how we feel–as long as we do not allow ourselves to be put in harm’s way–we love regardless of the attitudes of others towards us. Jesus said so, but even He had limits and boundaries–because He is love!