Friday, December 18, 2015

How Can I Love My Enemies?

How Can I Love My Enemies, by Gregory A. Johnson
by Gregory A. Johnson

It's easy for me to love my wife. Becky is a great mother to our children, a hard worker, full of wisdom, abundant in faith, and loving toward me regardless of all of my faults. She has been with me through thick and thin, standing by my side, encouraging me along the way. I would die for Becky. I have no problem with that and wouldn't even have to think about it, but my enemies who have lied about me, ridiculed, and persecuted me — how could I die for them?

Jesus said:
"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. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:27-36 ESV).
As I read those words of Jesus, the Holy Spirit brings to my mind a vivid awareness of the cross of Christ and the scene that unfolds there; let me replay it for you. Jesus is beaten to a point where his entrails are being held within his body only by strips of torn flesh. He is hanging there with nails going through his hands and feet, anchoring him to the rough, splintered wood. With every ounce of strength left, He pushes up with His feet just to get enough air into his lungs to take the next breath. His thorn-crowned head is hanging down with no energy left to lift it up. As He opens His eyes, there is a stinging from the warm mixture of blood and sweat running down His forehead, but He is able to make out the images of those standing below who are mocking Him and gambling for His clothes that were ripped from His now naked, beaten, and bloodied body. He sees the ones who violently abused Him to the point of death and says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). (Excerpted from the book, The Kingdom According to Jesus, by Gregory A. Johnson. Copyright © by Gregory A. Johnson. All rights reserved. Click here for a complete list of books, authored by Gregory A. Johnson)

Beloved, please know today that Jesus loves you. His love for you is demonstrated at the cross. His love for you is complete; it is finished. There is nothing you have done or can do, that will make him love you any more or any less. Bask in his love today, receiving his forgiveness for all of your confessed sin (1 John 1:9). Love and forgive others, including your enemies, as Christ loves and has forgiven you.

Know that you are loved,