“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43–44)
This is the future of love. These words, these wild ideas that hum with revolution. This strange ordering of words that reorder the world as we know it. This is the future of love.
Jesus’ provocative command to do the unthinkable—love your enemy—is often quoted and more often ignored. This is the unexplored frontier of the human experience.
Love your enemy is not hyperbole or poetry or a clever figure of speech. It is a defining commandment of this covenant community of Jesus.
But isn’t this a hard teaching?
No. It’s not hard. It’s impossible.
Christianity is brilliant as a philosophy. It is a beautiful ethic of life. But as such it is utterly impossible. It is a yoke of bondage and brutal burden as mere religion. But thankfully, it is none of those things. It is a dynamic relationship with Jesus in which we are transformed, rescued, and reconciled by his holy love. But it doesn’t stop there. His love for us creates our love for him, which in turn gives birth to that hallmark of the real Christian—devoted love for our neighbors, and yes, even our enemies. These words seem more ridiculous now than ever. Which is why we so desperately need them. And the future belongs to those who live them out.
After giving us this most impractical and revolutionary command to love our enemies, Jesus also carves out for us a most practical path. How can I love them? Start here: pray for them.
Prayer is more than talking. It’s listening. Yes, in prayer we give our burdens to Jesus. But as we listen, he starts to give his burdens to us.
He will begin to show you how he sees that enemy of yours—and will begin to pull back the curtain on your own motives and attitudes.
Prayer for our enemies cultivates holy love for our enemies. Which actually destroys our enemies. Because once you begin to pray for them, and in turn love them, they can no longer be your enemies.
Jesus, we pray for our enemies. We call by name the people who have hurt us, who have undercut us, who want to see us fail, who have lied about us. We pray for those who have betrayed us, who threaten us. We pray for those we want to hate. And we ask that your love would overpower, uproot, and replace the hate and hurt in our hearts.
What is your response to this teaching of Jesus? Do you think he is using a clever phrase or that he actually means it? What does that mean for us? Who is one person you will pray for?
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