Long ago a holy man set the record straight. Instead of revenge or retaliation, when we are persecuted we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). In the twenty-first century what might that look like? In modern society we see every rule of God broken with impunity (expectation of freedom from the consequences of our choices). Babies are murdered before they are born, marriage is no longer required as the established ground for raising a family, slander and lying are rampant, and the list goes on. The question is – how do we correct these evils?
A man-child was born to demonstrate the answer to that question. Fully human, Jesus the Son of God, lived only a few years, but His life lives on more than two millennia later, in those who follow His way (John 14:6). How often do we excuse ourselves on the basis of being “only human”. That phrase recognizes the weaknesses and limitations with which each of us has been born. Jesus also experienced human temptation and suffering, such suffering that He sweat drops of blood as he wrestled with the crisis He was facing, in Gethsemane.
Why did He suffer? He knew He had powerful enemies. The faith leaders of His day had walked away from God. They were teaching rules instead of relationship. Love! That was what the world needed, way back then. Even today our witnessing must be born of love. Jesus spoke words that challenge each of us with a love not known in most human terms: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
First this brings us a recognition of God, Creator of the world. “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). A New Testament verse reveals to us that Jesus was not just man, but equally He was God ( John 1:1). The only begotten – unique God-man. God’s greatest weapon against evil was His relational Being, His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:3). As we read John 3 we know that love ruled God’s decision to send His Son. His love blanketed the world…inclusive of race or gender. “Whosever believes” will receive the right to become children of God (John 3:16, 1:12).
In an age when evil reigned, when folks were violent and hateful, angry and greedy, Jesus came to bring what? Love! He cautioned His followers that they would be recognized by their love (John 13:35). As Jesus combatted the evils of demonic oppression, He loved. His heart was drawn towards suffering of every kind as He met with rich and poor, feeble and sick, male and female. He fed and healed and served because He loved everyone. He even loved those who rejected Him (Mark 10:21) and those who crucified Him.
As we serve Jesus, do our hearts cry out to our heavenly Father “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”? (Luke 23:34). Folks are making choices today which reject God’s laws of morality. What is our attitude towards them? Can we change them by nagging or demanding change? What would Jesus do and say if He lived on earth today?
Jesus does live on earth today…in broken vessels, but He has chosen you and me to represent Him, using the weapons He used. We have been given the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 617), who equips us to love and to live at peace, with kindness, gentleness, patience and even self-control! (Galatians 5:22-23). He helps us to do good to those who spitefully use us (Matthew 5:44). Let us always remember our enemies lack the holy hope which sustains children of God in lives of love, faithfulness and gratitude. What does my life witness to a weary, wounded world? Paul gave a benediction to the Romans:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)