Love Your Enemies?
How do you stand up to a bully?
How do you show strength when your life is threatened?
How do you fight back when you are attacked or insulted?
Some say fight fire with fire. Some say the bigger they are, the harder they fall. My father use to tell me to never throw the first punch but make sure that I threw the second. Growing up as an American male in the 60’s I had certain “role models”…John Wayne…Clint Eastwood…Charles Bronson…Steve McQueen. Actors who played tough guys and portrayed the “real man” image. Athletes like Muhammad Ali Dick Butkas, and Wilt Chamberlain, bigger than life characters. What would these guys do if they were in any way threatened? Fight back, hit back, shoot back. Take no prisoners.
This might be the “American” way…It might be the way of Babylon…It might be the way of the world.
But it’s not the way of Jesus. It not the way of love.
Jesus said these crazy, puzzling, challenging, amazing words…
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
So, is it going to be John Wayne or Jesus? Clint Eastwood or Jesus? Charles Bronson or Jesus? Steve McQueen or Jesus? Is it going to be fight back or love back? Hit or love? Shoot or love?
The Gospel…in a word…is love.