Love Your Enemies??
Jesus calls us to imitate Him and love those who oppose us. It is one of our greatest ways to stand out as a Christian.
Morning. David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.
Continuing our Greatest Sermon Ever Preached series on Jesus’ “sermon on the mount” found in Matthew 5-7 in the Bible.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how ironic “Sunday school” topics are
We teach our kids (and we have an A++ Children’s ministry at Renovation Kids) these topics that we label simple: Love God will all your heart, love everyone in your school or in your neighborhood, have faith that God can do all things, and realize that God loves you SO much and forgives everything you do!
And we too often, on autopilot, think, well, those are great topics for our children to learn. Some simple stuff right there!
But I’ve been thinking lately…it seems to me that we only get worse at the simple topics as we get older…
I might be better off having my 4 year old niece teach on Sunday mornings
Seems to me that 4 year olds get unconditional love better. They certainly have more faith, AND they certainly do a better job at loving even those who hurt them.
Kids relationships are so elastic, aren’t they?
When I was in elementary and middle school I was notorious for doing the same thing when I would get in fights with my friends…
Every time there was conflict, I would “fake” walk away…
And you know what the crazy part was…so often, it worked.
Or think of how often young kids get in fights, but the next day, they call up the same kid they were just screaming at the day before and say, “You wanna play?”
Yet, as we get older, we slowly lose the ability to show love to all people.
I wish I could remember who said this to me so I could give them credit, but…. In Elem. school (3rd or 4th grade) whole classrooms of kids are friends. Sure you have close friends, but you’re all sort of friends
But something happens around 7th or 8th grade. Cliques form. Subgroups form.
And by 9th grade there are full-blown groups.
You have your sports is life kids, your drama kids, your marching band is king kids, your “we’re going to Harvard kids,” if it’s not black we don’t wear it kids, your we’re cool cuz we don’t fit in any group kids
And right around the time we’ve started to place each other in different “groups” we start to very RAPIDLY lose the ability to freely love all people.
And pretty soon, we now have a list of friends and enemies.
Jesus speaks to this topic today. We are going to continue where we left off last week, and we will be in verse 43 of Matthew chapter 5.
(Matthew 5:43-48) - NLT
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID
Jesus, like he has with most topics in the Sermon on the Mount, starts with this “You have heard it said” phrase.
This is his “I’m about to turn your world upside down phrase” and teach you that things aren’t what you think they are
And many times he corrects, even what they their religious thoughts are
Because the Jews (Jesus was a Jew) had grown up hearing Love your neighbor.
It’s not only an important part of Jesus’ teaching, but was an important part of the OT
However, many religious Jews had also grown up hearing hate your enemy.
Yet, that teaching is thankfully NOT found in the Bible.
But, even though, it’s not a religious teaching, “religious people” tend to be some of the most hate filled people in the world right?
Whether it’s Islamic extremists who want to wipe out “heathen Israel” or destroy the “sinful West”, or even Christian fundamentalists in this country who murder abortion doctors.
Religious people tend to justify hatred because they wrongly make a poor connection…even if they are somewhat right…
Take a Christian for example…they might even be right in saying… “Jesus is the way to heaven.” But they are foolishly wrong in thinking that allows them to HATE PEOPLE who don’t believe so or even warring against those who believe so
Jesus says we are supposed to in fact LOVE our enemies and to PRAY for those who persecute us.
So, who are your enemies? And maybe enemy is true strong of a word for you to think of anyone. You’re probably not at WAR with someone.
So, I’ll ask it differently. Who’s out to get you? Who is opposing you? Who maybe hates you? Who is against you? Who doesn’t like you?
And how do you treat those people?
Are you buying into the lie that you are justified in “paying them back” or “getting even?”
Or maybe even justified in “doing nothing?”
Because I’m not sure that “doing nothing” is always love. Sometimes maybe. But usually not.
LOVE LIKE YOUR DAD
So what does it mean to “LOVE” someone? I think that’s an important question.
Well, first of all…You’re not going to “LOVE” someone who physically harmed you in the same way you are going to try and “LOVE” a sibling you maybe are at odds with lately.
Well, let’s look at the Bible again:
Let’s look at verse 44 and the first part of 45
(Matthew 5:44-45a) - NLT
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.
If we are “loving our enemies,” Jesus says we will be acting like TRUE children of God.”
You ever notice that kids do what their dad’s do?
Brian Lind suit to school story
Ask a young boy what he wants to be when he grows up (McDonald’s, Doctor, Teacher)
If their dad’s into football, might ask questions. Into fishing, probably will want to fish.
But that’s only true if you grew up with your dad right.
Sadly, in our culture. Many people grow up without dad’s (passes away, divorced). And this is a sad thing to say, but if a child grows up in a different physical location from their dad and doesn’t see him much, it doesn’t really matter if the dad really likes to fish and spends a lot of time fishing in Montana. If the child grows up in New York City apart from their biological dad, there’s a good chance they’ll care less about fishing
And it’s kind of true when we think about God and this topic. Too many Christians don’t look like their heavenly dad. Their Father.
They simply do not LOVE like he LOVES.
And the reason why…is because they don’t spend any real time with Him, and thus never learn to imitate Him. And do what he does. To love what He loves. And to love HOW he loves.
What about you? Are you spending time with your dad? Catching a passion for what He loves?
LOVING LIKE GOD
See God loves in a much larger way than we do. His love is unconditional. That’s what our passage said: Look at the middle couple of verses:
(Matthew 45b-47) – NLT
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
God sends the sun and the rain on the good and on the evil. (this is sometimes called “common grace.”) He shows love to every person, and each person has in front of them an opportunity to accept His grace.
And we, as his children are to do the same, to let our sun and rain, our common grace show to everyone. No matter who they are.
We are to love with out condition. And let it be in their hands whether or not they will accept his grace.
And to do that at a truly Godly level means to love people outside of your group.
That’s what children of God, who hang out with their dad a lot do.
Because it’s really not that special, as Jesus says, to love those people who are like you. Even when they get on your nerves sometimes.
Anyone can love people like them
Jesus says, even the tax collectors do that.
Which by the way you have a month to get your taxes done. J Tax collectors don’t seem that bad to us
But in Jesus’ time, these were the local Jewish people who became traitors and collected money for the conquering Romans (often more than they should have) from their Jewish brothers and sisters. Let’s just say, they were not well liked
But even they could love their tax collector friends
And so can any other human. Humans love people in their group. The sports kids love the sports kids. The band kids love the bands kids. I mean, think of even some terrible groups from history. Even the nazi’s loved their fellow nazi’s. The KKK, took care of those in the KKK.
It’s not really that hard to love people like you.
But God’s love transcends our normal human groupings and cliques. He doesn’t see social boundary markers, he loves all people. Even those who have rejected Him.
Think about that. He still shows love and pursues even those who reject Him.
If we’re in a really loving mood, we sometimes will at least try and love everyone.
Maybe you try and love everyone at work or in this church or in your neighborhood…but for most of us that doesn’t last forever
Because let’s be honest, often we don’t give people more than one chance. And as soon as they reject us, or hurt us, well, they can rot and just die as far as I’m concerned. We turn on the diva mode.
And maybe, if you’re extra good at loving, you give someone two chances, or maybe even three strikes. But if they hurt you multiple times, to keep loving them is REALLY hard.
But God’s love is never-ending on this earth
God continues to love even those who continually reject him on this earth. Giving them infinite chances until they die.
I want you to look really closely at this passage from the Bible that talks about how God looks at you
(Romans 5:8-10) – NLT
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
God, unlike most of us, pursues with love even the people who continually reject him
Many of you are new to this church, and don’t know my story and background. I won’t go into detail, but I will say this
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, and I ignored God for the first 18 years of my life. In fact, I opposed him. I openly mocked Christians for their faith, for their clothing, for their dedication, and more.
And yet, when I was 18 years old, God started knocking on the door of my heart…and you know what…I wasn’t even looking for Him.
He pursued me with his love while I was outwardly opposing Him
And I’m so thankful He did.
But let me clarify something important about God’s love that I think SO many people misunderstand.
It’s a phrase that many Christians throw around, and can sound cheesy, but it’s also very true: “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.”
For example, when I was in high school, and openly mocked one of my classmates for wearing a Christian shirt to school…it’s not like God was like, “Oh, I love that you’re doing that. No, I would be willing to be he hated it. He was grieved for that girl. He was angry. But he still loved ME anyway. Hated the action. Loved the person.
This is important: To love your enemies doesn’t necessarily mean you condone or fully embrace their actions…but it does mean that you are engaged in a person’s life with enough love and kindness that God can use you to help spread His love and hopefully help them to accept his love and gift of salvation from the cross.
A lot of people miss this on both sides.
A lot of non-Christians feel like Christians aren’t loving because we don’t condone something and think it’s wrong.
That’s philosophical garbage. I don’t have to condone the actions of a friend who’s addicted to drugs to love Him.
You don’t need to condone/approve to love.
But a lot of Christians make a mistake on the opposite end:
They feel like if someone is doing something wrong, that they should completely separate themselves from that person.
Also, not true. Jesus lived a life of loving people who even radically opposed him.
Even in some of his last words, while speaking of his murderers, he said, “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
CAN YOU LOVE LIKE THAT?
But to love like that is not easy.
And I’ll tell you right now: We don’t stand a chance at loving our enemies unless we open up our heart to His Love. Our supply of love is limited, His is not.
Our ability to love those who oppose us is like having a water glass full of love. We have a little, but eventually it runs out.
But, his supply of love is endless. It’s like you being a hose that is connected to a faucet.
If you are with Him, if you spend time with him, watch him, you will be better able to love like him, and show his unending love to all people.
And we need to do that. We need to be serious about loving like Him. About showing love even to those who continually offend us.
Do you feel like you do that? How would you rate your ability to love those who continually oppose and reject you?
Do you still try and show some sort of love, some sort of cordialness, some sort of peace and grace?
Or have you given up on some people?
We have a phrase we use with our leaders a lot at Renovation Church, where we say, “We don’t give up on people!”
Even if they stop showing up to church. Even if they seemed opposed to us. Even if they’re our friends, and yet our are enemies when it comes to the subject of church. We keep praying that God would use us to reach them. We don’t give up on people.
And I challenge you to be a part of that movement. To not give up on the people around you. To really love them. To love them so much that you value their worth and eternal resting place more than you value being right.
And I want to be that church that is known as the group of people who just really love people. No matter where they’re at.
And we’ve got work to do.
And I want to challenge you not to rest. Some of you have been here even from the beginning and have got to watch this thing grow from a small group of people into a full-blown growing church.
And my challenge to you is don’t get comfortable. Don’t ever say we made it. Because…we’ve just begun.
Before we started this church, we did a lot of research. We found, that on an average Sunday in Blaine, 16.9% of people attend church. 16.9%
In fact, if you added all the attendance of the Blaine churches together, it only equaled 2,500. So now, it’s 2,650.
60,000 people live in this city alone.
We simply do not have time to live a life of loving only those who treat us well, and we do not have the luxury of getting serious about our faith at a later time.
It’s time to move now.
It’s time to start loving like our Father now.
Next week (since I always love application), we’re even going to give you invitation cards to hand out to people about our church if you have a friend or a neighbor. I would encourage you to start praying about that now.
Jesus concludes this section, by giving a summary statement to the last 27 verses we’ve looked at (teachings about anger, keeping your word, relationships, revenge, and loving your enemies)
And He says this:
(Matthew 5:48) – NLT
48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Now, before you get all nervous, when we read the rest of the Bible in context, we realize that God realizes we’re nowhere close to perfect. But this is the standard. This is the standard we are to reach for.
God calls us to have, what some have called a “restful dissatisfaction”
On the one hand, you rest in the fact that you are not perfect.
You are not going to perfectly love those who oppose you. In fact, sometimes you are going to think terrible things about them, sometimes you’re even going to retaliate and do something worse.
But we rest in the fact, that despite our imperfection, he came and died for us anyway. And if you’ve accepted his offer (believed in what he did), you are 100% forgiven. No matter what. Amen? That’s good news!
And we don’t want to get too rested OR too focused on being PERFECT.
But yet, it’s a “restful dissatisfaction” in that, our forgiveness is no cause for rest. Because there are endless things that I should see in myself as areas of growth. As motivation to lean in to Him and have Him grow me even stronger so that I can help others find his rest as well.
And because of that, God is calling you to do anything but float through this life.
He’s calling you to be like Him. To be like your dad. Because in reality, your dad IS a fisherman.
He fishes for people. Even the ones that try and avoid his bait and try and get away from him at all costs.
But he keeps fishing and he keeps looking and keeps pursuing.
NO matter WHO it is.
And may we humbly attempt to do the same.
You can look under your chair right now, and you should see a connection card and a pen. Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.
If you’ve been here before, just put your name on it
If you have a prayer request and want our prayer team to be praying for you this week, there’s a space for that on the back as well
Good Friday service on Friday, April 2nd HERE at 7pm.
In just a moment, we are going to take an offering as well
A time for us to serve for God with what he has given us.
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well
This morning, we are also going to take communion as a body of believers.
It’s a way for us to remember/reflect on the radical grace of Jesus Christ.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) –DON’T PUT ON SCREEN
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it 2) To examine ourselves, I always like to ask the intimidating question of myself at communion: if He really gave everything…if his body was broken for me, am I give everything back?
In the back, 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
And as we continue in worship and as you examine yourself, take some time…maybe to picture that scene on the cross…and start letting grace sink in.
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next 3 songs (if you need to wait to the 3rd song), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. Perhaps pray with your spouse, fiancé, your family.
Communion is much more than a ritual at Renovation Church. It’s a time to experience and worship Jesus Christ.
Let me pray for our offering and communion time.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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