Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
There is an unmistakable, common thread at the core of all of the 75 Secrets. Followers of Jesus are known to be lovers-grateful recipients of God’s unconditional love, lovers of God, lovers of neighbors, lovers of others as family and now the pinnacle of it all. SECRET #5 is: The follower of Jesus loves his enemies.
It was one thing for Jesus to announce to his early disciples the new commandment: “I want you to love one another just as I have loved you.” That was a powerful foundation Jesus laid for them. I mean, here was quite a group of men from a variety of backgrounds. There were fishermen. Within that group there was Peter who seemingly had no unexpressed thought. There was a cynic by the name of Thomas who was never quite sure about whatever it was that everyone else seemed to have embraced as a truth. Then there was Matthew, a hated tax collector, sort of a traitor to the Jews who worked for the Romans. Simon, the Zealot, had to have been an interesting one. He was a political activist, from a party of radicals against the Romans. Can’t you feel the initial tension in the room, when Jesus announced to them that he expected them to not only get along, but to love one another? I can hear the thoughts of some of them, thinking: “Jesus, I signed on to follow you, but not to hang out too closely with this motley crew.”
Jesus had already given them a personal illustration of what he meant by loving one another, when he washed the disciples’ feet. Loving one another was all about serving one another-lifting one another up higher than himself. This was a tough call, for sure! But in order for the lover motif to be complete Jesus taught an even more radical thought for his followers to practice-to love your enemy. Let’s listen in on how Jesus taught this:
Matthew records in the 5th chapter of his Gospel: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Luke records the same teaching in the 6th chapter of his Gospel: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
The power of the Jesus movement is the dynamic of sacrificial love toward everyone, but especially your enemies. SECRET #5 is: The follower of Jesus loves his enemies. Do you have any enemies? You can eliminate them all right now. Love them!