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Love Them to Life (published in The North Weld Herald 9/2/10)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:15 PM by Fccea Webmaster
It was New Year's Eve. The party at the club was in high gear when Seymour noticed Freddy purposely snub George with whom he was on the outs. Seymour went up to Freddy and urged him to make up. "You must," he said. "It is unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go wish George a Happy New Year." Freddy thought it over for a bit, then made his way across the room to his enemy. "George," he said, "Seymour says I should bury the hatchet with you. So I came over to wish you a Happy New Year." Then he added, "But only one!"

Somehow making overtures toward enemies is not in our DNA. Even our most heroic efforts are usually feeble at best.
It's far easier and more emotionally satisfying to justify the hard feelings. I read an article just the other day entitled "To Forgive is Good; But Sometimes I Want to Stay Mad". It extolled the virtues of holding a grudge!

But for those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, it is not so easy. Neither hatred nor feeble efforts at reconciliation are acceptable options.

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44).

The religious Pharisees of Jesus' time knew the Old Testament command to love their neighbors but they had made their own little addendum. "Hate your enemies." It was their accepted practice.

Jesus says, "You fellows missed the intent there. Let me reinterpret for you. 'You shall love your neighbor, including your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.' I don't only want you to tolerate your enemies, I want you to love them and pray for them."

Now, you can almost hear the wheels turning for the legalists in the crowd -- even from 2,000 years away! "Pray for them? Fine. Ill pray for them. Ill be glad to pray -- for their demise!"

Which is why Luke gave us further insight into what was said that day. His account of Jesus' statement reads like this: "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:27-28). No loopholes there.

Jesus' requirement is that we not just tolerate enemies, but that we love them with enthusiasm, and pray for them with positive intent. Rather than love them to death, He is urging us to love them to life!

Most of us have someone with whom we are on the outs. We also have our list of people whom we hold in contempt because of their religion, ethnic background, political beliefs, or just plain behavioral patterns. Can we pray for them -- not just one Happy New Year, but a Happy Forever? That would mean that they came to know Christ -- maybe because we cared enough to obey Him.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave