Love Your Enemies

charlottesville protests

If you believe in a God who is going to execute judgment with perfect justice, then you can leave it in his hands and do what Jesus told you to do: love your enemies.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
“But I tell you: Love your enemies…”

Jesus

I have to be honest.
When I read this my mind automatically raises objections, formulates exceptions to what Jesus is clearly saying here.
Do this except when..
Love them unless they..
Maybe it is because every truth is relative to our experience and there is a limit to what we are willing to suffer.

I have a photo taken many years ago of Martin Luther King Jr. and his band of brothers as they marched to the courthouse in Montgomery Alabama.
I see in their faces what no amount of words could accurately express.
The pain  on the bridge at Selma on bloody Sunday, the snarls of dogs and the blows inflicted on those who marched. I see the days spent in jail, the burned out buses of the freedom riders.
A few years later Dr. King would be dead. Shot down in Memphis.

 

mlk

We could  look at where we are now, so much hate, so much violence and ask,
What did they really accomplish?

What did Dr. King and others who were willing to suffer and die gain?

In nine short years more was accomplished to right a terrible wrong than all of the government programs and violence we have seen since that time attempt to do. The Civil Rights Movement which began with Rosa Parks in 1955 culminated with the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 was accomplished through non-violent, peaceful protest. Blessing came for so many because of a few who were willing to suffer insults, persecution, and be falsely accused because of their willingness to stand for what was right. Without responding with violence. Choosing instead love that stood against hate, love that birthed hope for better days regardless of skin color.

In this first quarter of the 21st century we face the same enemies once again. Hatred, violence, persecution, division. We have a choice in how we respond.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr. 

We can respond in kind with boycotts, demonstrations, public protests, get-out-the-vote campaigns, and angry rhetoric. That strategy so far has not kept our culture’s spiritual decline from steadily accelerating. More important, such tactics which have done little to advance the gospel.* Or,

We can choose to answer insults with respect, kindness, grace.

We can choose to answer persecution by blessing those who persecute us (Luke 6:27-28) showing them by our actions the truth of the Gospel

We can choose to endure and stand when culture and popular opinion opposes the truth.

We can choose as much as it depends on us to be at peace with everyone.

We can choose to love our enemies.

In the end all injustice and persecution suffered throughout the ages will be set right by God who is the judge of all things. And, “If you believe in a God who is going to execute judgment with perfect justice, then you can leave it in his hands and do what Jesus told you to do: love your enemies.”

 

*Quote by John MacArthur

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