Loving Enemies and Following Jesus

1336079_98421028So on Sunday we looked at a really difficult but defining teaching of Jesus: love your enemies. This is a defining teaching of Jesus because it should define us as his followers. As Jesus himself says, everyone in the world loves those who love them. That’s normal, that natural, and that’s easy. Christians are called to be different than those around us, but the way we love not just our neighbors but our enemies.

This is Jesus’ teaching. Love your enemies.

And he grounds this teaching in something so important for us. He grounds this teaching in his revelation of who the Father is. He says we are to love our enemies in Matthew 5:45 because this makes us true children of our Father. That just as the Father loves those who oppose him, how he sends rain and sunshine on the good and evil, and how he has particularity for grace ~ so should we as Christians. The point is that if God is about grace, forgiveness, and love of enemies, we too need to be as Christians. The truth is this: there is no room for hate in the Kingdom because there is no room for hate in God.

And we need to get this straight because our view of God shapes our behaviors. If we believe God is hateful, we become hateful. If we believe God is loving, we become loving. So Jesus grounds our behavior in our belief of a loving God.

We ended with the challenge to actually love our enemies. We recognized the ridiculousness of this. That it might not change our enemies, it won’t protect us from hurt, and it won’t be easy. It is though the way of the Kingdom. Bonhoeffer says this: “Jesus does not promise that when we bless our enemies and do good to them they will not despitefully use and persecute us. They certainly will. But not even that can  hurt or overcome us, so long as we pray for them.” Our love, prayer, and good deeds regardless of the change in our enemy needs to be our behavior. Bonhoeffer continues, “The will of God is that men should defeat their enemies by loving them. Am I asked how this love is to behave? Jesus gives the answer: bless, do good, and pray for your enemies without reserve and without respect of persons”.

And that’s how we ended the challenge from Jesus: pray for enemies, do good to enemies, and bless your enemies. Let’s just see what might happen in our world and our lives if we take Jesus’ teaching seriously.

What might happen if we actually lived it out?

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Love your enemies

Take Aways…

  • What if we actually did what Jesus said?
  • God is not a God of hate
  • If we are not clear on who God is we will not be clear on how to live.
  • If you have a false idea of God, the more religious you are the worse it is for you – it were better for you to be an atheist. William of Canterbury
  • You become the god, you follow.
  • Praying for an enemy and loving him will prove mutually reinforcing. The more love, the more prayer; the more prayer the more love. D.A. Carson
  • Love your enemies
  • Our enemies are not “people in general” but “personal people” we know and interact with.
  • Loving your enemies won’t make your life easier, better, or less problematic ~ it will make your life like Jesus’
  • Jesus was not crucified for saying or doing what made sense to everyone. Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas
  • The Christian principle ‘love your enemy is good … there is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practice sincerely. Bertrand Russell
  • Through the medium of prayer we go to the our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God. We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot for themselves. Every insult they utter only serves to bind us more closely to God and them. Bonhoeffer
  • Love your enemies.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

What did you find hardest about this teaching? What did you find compelling? Who right now is an enemy God might be calling you to love? How can you pray for them? How might you do good towards them? How can you bless them? Who can help support you in this and encourage you in loving your enemies? Whom can you support in their effort to love their enemies? How can you help them?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk to your kids about today’s teaching. Talk to them about how there can be no hate in God’s kingdom. Ask them who they have as an enemy right now. Ask them if they’d like to pray for them and pray for them together.

Challenge for this Week: Love your enemies: do good, pray, and bless them.