It is so incredibly difficult to love others who don’t love us. Especially those who wrong us. When we are insulted, attacked, wounded or deceived, we find our anger quick to replace our love—and yet—Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that we need to show our adversaries love in these moments, and not hate.
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? I AM SO FURIOUS! HOW ON EARTH DO YOU WANT ME TO LOVE THAT UNLOVABLE PERSON AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!
“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, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matt Chandler (from The Village Church) illustrates this concept in a great sermon about revenge and love. He conveys that sometimes God needs to remodel the house of our own thinking in order to get us to better see the overall vision He is planning. But it may not be in accordance with how we see the house laid out…
“He’s remodeling while we live in it. He’s blowing out walls. He’s changing the flow. He’s creating a new feel. He’s reshaping how we think. He’s reshaping how we act. He’s creating new walls for our good and for our ultimate comfort, albeit not comfortable while he’s blowing out walls and rearranging the furniture. He’s going to enter into this idea of retaliation and revenge in a way that blows out all our walls and takes what we find to be a tidy, little home, and he’s going to rearrange it.
How tiresome, laborious and frustrating are home improvement projects? Anyone who has experienced this can certainly attest to how involved they are. And when you’re living in the midst of all that construction, it can be a messy, dirty invasion into your living quarters—which also creates a lot of general discomfort.
So it should come as no surprise that when God is the chief remodeler, the process of improving upon our lives can be quite uncomfortable, or even painful. Especially when He rearranges the house of our former character.
Chandler goes on to say…
“You’re kind of like me in that scenario where my mother-in-law was kind of talking about how the room is going to look and no matter how much she talks I just get more confused and think, ‘This is all dumb.’ I want to give you a word of warning that what Jesus is about to teach goes contrary to almost everything you’re going to feel in your gut.“
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides insight contrary to everything we know instinctively about retribution. Some of us have grown up with the mentality of when somebody wounds us, we wound them back. But what Jesus says is contrary to that belief. And what He instructs us to follow is absolutely necessary to the transformation God wants to do in our own hearts. In other words, do not seek revenge. Seek love.
“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,
But let’s be honest here, that notion is not easy by any means. Love those who clearly don’t love us? That’s quite difficult to think and even harder to actively implement at times when our hearts are full of rage and hurt.
Well, guess what? Jesus just tossed a hand grenade into your living room and blew out all the walls. Those walls represent our former way of thinking, centered around self-interest and self-preservation. In other words, our instinctive way to deal with adversity could be, “Is this good for me? Is this right for me? Is this just for me? Does this benefit me? Does this move me forward?” In the Sermon on the Mount however, Jesus deconstructs our ability to think that way. Or as Chandler further elaborates…
“…you would believe God is kind of lucky to have you on his team, that God’s rep is finally being protected by you, that you deserve God’s grace, and you deserve God’s mercy because you’re a great catch. In reality, if you bring God any glory whatsoever it’s that he rescued a fool like you and like me. God’s glory is seen in the fact that he did save you, that he did pick you for his team. He’s like winning with all the people who can’t play. That’s God’s glory. He picks everyone who wouldn’t get picked and then wins the game with them. That’s the glory of God.”
So given that the nature of reality is so much more than just you and me, it could be a lot more helpful if we just removed ourselves from that stronghold of me, me, me and instead, TRUSTED in Him, Him, Him—God’s vision, His remodeling—as He goes to work in the residence of our former, messed up way of thinking.
On the surface, it doesn’t make one bit of sense to love our enemies, but we need to truly trust Jesus here and believe in what He says. As Chandler goes on—until we understand that and can rest in that, we will never be able to extend grace to those who need grace, and most definitely not our enemies.
Perhaps we should be asking: “What is loving? How do I love this enemy of mine in a way that is good for them, helpful for them, and in the end gives us the best opportunity for them to sense, see, and enjoy the grace that has been so richly lavished upon me?”
“How are we responding to those who actively are against us? Don’t ever be surprised when lost people act lost. Don’t ever be surprised when immature believers act immature. This is God rebuilding the walls. This is God creating new flow, so that my first response when my face gets slapped is not attack, but prayerful consideration, a gathering of community and saints asking and seeking wisdom and then responding with a heart motivated by love.”
The issues you are experiencing today, genuinely suck. If they didn’t suck, you wouldn’t have cared. But please remember—as I try to remind myself of this too—anything that we are experiencing today is merely just a blip in eternity, and the “right now” is nothing more than light and momentary.
I pray that you choose not to seek retribution like your former selves would have you do, but rather to seek God’s wisdom and counsel the next time you are wronged. And I pray that I can be strengthened and encouraged by your testaments as well. For this is one of the areas that I struggle with greatly, as my usual Scorpio self consists of stinging back against those who have wronged me. And your prayers would certainly help me overcome this mindset.
Let’s start the week off better than the last one. Good luck and godspeed to you my friends.