“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 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. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.“
Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)
Jesus’ teachings often go counter to the way many (but not all) of us think. Take the reference to rain in this passage – “he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike”. I grew up in a culture where rain in the weather forecast was seen as kind of a bummer. It got in the way of what I wanted to do that day. As I have traveled to other parts of the world, I have come to appreciate how valued rain is. A day with a weather forecast for rain is considered a great blessing from God.
There are two points we shouldn’t miss here. The first is God’s ways are much higher (and different!) than our own. Jesus calls us to love our enemies. On the Jesus to pagan scale, most of us are much closer to the pagans than Jesus on that issue. Let’s not be surprised when God calls us to living that is much, much different than others around us, even others in church pews.
The second point is we can learn a lot and actually enrich our lives by walking a bit more closely with those who think differently than we do. When it rains now, I thank God for the rain because of what I have learned from others around the world. I used to hate red lights. Then I learned from my mother-in-law how she thanks God when the light turns red because it allows her to slow down and not be in such a rush. Now I thank God for red lights and the peace I can experience as a result of learning from someone who thought differently from me.
Let’s embrace Jesus’ radical teachings and thank Him for those He sends our way who think differently than we do. We may end up with far fewer enemies if we do and actually be able to direct our love to those we have come to call friends.
This is the second in the “Provide Services to People of Any or No Faith” series of blog posts on our Journey to Palpable Kingdom Presence.