Saturday 27 February 2010

Bible Book:

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (v.44)

Matthew 5:43-48 Saturday 27 February 2010


Jesus' disciples are called to be united to God in purpose.Their actions are to be in perfect harmony with God's actions(verse 48). Such a community of disciples becomes the 'true' peopleof Israel that God always intended. In a metaphorical sense,everyone else can be called 'Gentiles' and 'tax-collectors' (verses46-47). Those terms have nothing to do with race, religion,occupation or political choices. They simply express, in vividimagery, a distinction that is unavoidable - on the one side,followers of Jesus; on the other, the rest of society.

The key issue is about how people behave. Typically, in pretty wellany group or community, there is pressure to set limits on wherelove and service are to be offered. Tribal loyalties, familyblood-ties and the pride in belonging which is fostered withinorganisations mean that love is real enough, but confined to thefriendship network - we love those who love us (verses 46-47), andeasily demonise or blame those who are not like us (verse43).

Disciples of Jesus, however, must love everyone without anydistinction whatsoever. As John Wesley, one of the founders ofMethodism, said, they must be "a friend of all and an enemy ofnone". Indeed their love must reach out to their enemies andpersecutors on the same terms as to everyone else. They are not togive privileged attention to fellow disciples.

('Love' here is not about liking someone or pretending thateveryone, however hostile or obnoxious, must have a 'good side' tothem. Love means acting in the best interests of another person,serving them so as to release their potential as a mature humanbeing.)

In being a Good Samaritan (see Luke10:25-37) to everyone they meet, a disciple imitates theactivity of God, who indiscriminately sends rain and sun oneveryone. Jesus embodied the divine universal love; by followinghim, disciples are drawn into the activity of God. Loving all,including enemies, comes with a high price tag - it is the way ofthe Cross. But its 'reward' is communion with God, or life in God'skingdom.

To Ponder

How is it possible to love someone who hasbullied you without colluding with their bullying? Is itpossible?

What would it take today to resolve to love theleast favourite member of your family circle? What practical actionwould need to be taken to express such a resolve?

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