In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus says “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” I have never thought of myself as having enemies, or being an enemy to anyone, so I have not felt the magnitude of this passage. Yet over the past few months, I have had a series of challenges with people who ended up stealing from me. These included a dishonest music promoter, wrecker service (after my car broke down on the interstate), and a bona fide thief. Since these encounters happened back to back and I always look for the meaning and reasons for things, it was hard for me to make sense of it, and even harder to feel anything remotely related to love for these people.
I have heard several pastors over the years say that we really don’t understand God’s love. We love the people who love us in return. This is the exact opposite of what these verses from Luke are saying. So these situations have given me an opportunity to explore the idea of loving seemingly unlovable people and seeing them the way God does. He really wants us to love when we feel hatred, and show kindness when it is the last thing we want to do. I think about the people who use others, and the three who used me, and how it must feel to be them. If they have the capacity to feel (which some people do not), they must feel much desperation and insecurity to live in a reality where the highlight of the day is how much they took from someone else. Imagine being a person like this, and how freeing it would be to experience God’s love and healing.
Jesus continues in verse 29 and says that if someone takes your cloak (or coat), give him your tunic (or shirt) as well. Verse 30 says from him who takes away your goods, do not ask for them back. Verses 31-36 say that if you love those who love you…, and do good to those who do good to you…, and lend hoping to get it back…, what credit is this to you? Love your enemies, do good and lend, hoping for nothing in return, and your reward will be great. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
Imagine really feeling this way for someone who has hurt you, and this is just a glimpse of God’s love.