Be a Disciple – “How to love the people you hate”

(Sermon July 8th)

I entered into this journey fully hoping to have something significant to say that would help us answer the call to love our enemies. Jesus tells us not to hate – reversing a position that seems to work its way through much of the Old Testament (including more than half the Psalms). And then he pushes us further, telling us to love those who hate us. Perhaps this is a new insight for me – that the definition of Enemy under Jesus goes from those I hate to those who hate me. (For the record, much of the OT tradition is about hating those who hate God – which is a variation of the above – see Psalm 139:21)

Where I end up, ultimately, is that I don’t know how to love the people I hate – or dislike, or whatever. Yes, I know what to do to express love – Jesus says to pray for them, so I will. Jesus says to bless them – which I think means to speak blessings on them and also to concretely bless them by doing for them – which I will. But I don’t have to love them. And that’s what He has asked of me, and as the teaching in Mt 5 clearly illustrates, the attitude of the heart is as important as the action itself – to hate someone brings me under the same judgement as murder. To harbor lust brings me under the same judgement as adultery. To not love is not acceptible. And because I can not love everyone, always, without fail or exception, I am a Goat in the parable Jesus tells in Mt 25.31-46. I am guilty of “not feeding, giving, visiting….” Only by the grace of Jesus can I stand before the throne without fear.

And that brings me back to our topic – “How to love the people you hate.” I can’t, except by coming to Jesus. He can, and he can lead the way. He can love them for me, and if I am yoked with him (Mt 11:29-30) then I will learn along the way together with Him. And because I stand under His cross, and His grace, then I can stand with humble confidence. I may not be able to love them on my own, but if I want nothing but to please Him, then He will lead the way.

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