When Jesus showed up on the scene, He began to explain how His new kingdom would operate. It was so counter-cultural and counter-intuitive that anyone listening knew the only way they could live like this was with divine intervention.
Of all the statements in this Kingdom Manifesto we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), perhaps the one most rattling was the command to love and serve our enemies.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45 NASB).
This is not the normal lane in which we travel. And, since we all function the same way (NOT loving our enemies), we feel fairly justified in our responses.
But God’s kingdom has an entirely different orientation and purpose. In His kingdom, people love each other unconditionally. This doesn’t mean there aren’t occasions when we must confront others or stand firm in convictional disagreement, but even that is done in love.
My line of work can generate some enemies, since part of a pastor’s job is to draw some biblical lines in presenting the truth. For some, this is not only uncomfortable when it runs counter to their desires, it makes them angry.
I’ve had a number of people set themselves in opposition to me—even lead campaigns against me. It took me a long time to realize that I must forgive them and, one step further, love them.
But realizing this is only the first step. Then you must authentically love them! You can’t fake this with an enemy. I’ve discovered that I’m completely incapable of that type of love. It only comes from God. John said this kind of love is “from God … for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Becoming a Channel
The marvelous thing is, if you have believed in Jesus Christ and been supernaturally born again into His kingdom, Jesus is IN you. All the love needed is IN you, because He is in you. Therefore, you can admit your need, ask God to flood your heart with the love of His Spirit, and then simply do what Love prompts.
If you surrender to this approach, you will discover a supernatural love you didn’t think possible. It can function in the face of any opposition. You will quickly realize this as something that only finds its genesis in God Himself, and you will give Him praise.
You will experience the glorious privilege of becoming the “suit of clothes Jesus wears” as He loves people through you. This is liberating, as you realize that no enemy is an obstacle to your joy or purpose.
In fact, loving your enemies is your most powerful witness to the reality of God. And you will be clearly seen as a son or daughter of God.