Skin Deep? Love your enemies

A man comes to Jesus and asks him “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what the law says. He responds with the two greatest commandments “Love God” and “Love your neighbour.”  Jesus confirms that he has answered correctly. The man however isn’t satisfied. “Who is my neighbour?” He asks. Then Jesus tells the story of a man beaten by thieves, deserted by his religious leaders and rescued by a Samaritan.

The man wanted to justify himself and so he did so by setting boundaries around himself and his law keeping. If he could agree a restricted definition of who his neighbour was then surely he could say without doubt that he had loved him and therefore shown his love for God too.

But when it comes to love, there are no boundaries, no limits. It is the one outstanding debt.  So Jesus says that our love for our neighbour must include our enemy too.  Jesus himself did this when on the Cross he said “Father forgive them.” 

It is helpful to remember that in the Sermon on the Mount, we are seeing Jesus fulfilling the typology of Moses giving the Law. In fact, Jesus has said that he has come to fulfil the Law, not to abolish it. This helps us to see what is going on throughout the sermon.

Who are the happy people? Well, they are those who are not distracted by other idols, fully dependent on God, poor in Spirit they love him with their whole heart which is seen in their hunger for righteousness.  They seek God’s glory, they are pure hearted and so they love others as they are merciful and pursue peace.

What are we to be like as God’s people. We are to be salt, distinctive and useful We are light in a dark world. The World will see our light. Remember that Jesus also said that people will see us and know we are his disciples when we love one another.

Then, in the last part of chapter 6, we see love for God and neighbour requires a transformed heart that takes away anger, motivates forgiveness, is faithful and patient.  This love means that we will even love our enemies. We will do good to our persecutors remembering that Christ too was persecuted, as were the prophets and so we are blessed.

Who do you need to show love to today?

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