“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV)
If you had asked me, I would have said that I did not have any enemies. It certainly is my goal to not have any enemies. I don’t want to regard anyone as my enemy. I don’t want to harbor anything against anyone. I want to love everyone. I want to serve everyone. I want to pray for everyone. Those are all good desires. Do you know that I also had all those desires in my heart? I am certain of that it was your desire to love, serve and pray for all your enemies. That’s right. But, what makes you so certain that I wanted to love, serve and pray for all my enemies? Beyond, what you have said in your word? Yes, beyond what you can read in my word. The desires of my heart come from you. It is only because I have drawn near to you and as I am coming to know you, that these thoughts have become the desires of my heart. Prior to coming to know you, I was certain that I had enemies. Prior to coming to know you, I wanted to get revenge against every one of my enemies. I hated my enemies. I wanted to pay each one of them back with the same evil that they committed against me. You can be sure, that in those days, I kept a close score and a precise recall of everyone who had harmed and hurt me. That’s not good. I know.
I did have enemies, you know that? Yes, I know that you had many enemies. At times, it must have seemed like the whole world was against you. Yes, it did. Why do you think I had enemies? You were in this world. You were not of this world. You lived a righteous life in an evil world. Evil hates good. Darkness hates light. Lies hate the truth. The world is everything you were not. The world rejected you, your words and your deeds. Yes, it did. As you become more and more like me, do not be surprised when the world hates and rejects you. Don’t wonder how or why you could possibly have any enemies. I won’t.
What will you do when you recognize that you do have enemies? I will do what you did. What did I do? You loved your enemies. You went out of your way to serve your enemies. You prayed for your enemies. You laid down your life for your enemies. You made it so your enemies could one day come to you, to be your friends and followers. Yes, I did. I was once one of your enemies. Yes, you were. You loved and prayed for me, so I could come to you. Yes, I did. I will love and pray for my enemies, so that they can also, one day, come to you. That will be very good.
Lord, I didn’t think I had any enemies. Now, I know that I have enemies. Help me to know how to love my enemies. Show me how I can pray for my enemies. Help me to be your witness in the world. Help me turn my enemies into your and my close friends. Amen
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