In Defense of Love
Love your enemies (v.44).
Throughout much of 2011, Greece experienced unrest as round after round of austerity measures were passed, reducing pension payments and slashing worker benefits. Listening to interviews on the BBC, I heard shopkeepers and laborers speak of the gloom they felt about their future. Some were angry. Some were resigned. Everyone felt hopeless. Protests escalated. The government convulsed. Greeks expressed anger at politicians and anger at the wealthy class—anger at anyone who was deemed to have contributed to (or profited from) the crisis.
I know little of the intricacies of the politics and economy of Greece, and even less about whether the anger and unrest was justified (though I suspect that much of it had good cause). Throughout history, however, those under the heel of hardship have often lashed out at the real (or perceived) oppressors. It was no different in Jesus’ day. For years, the Jews had been looking for a revolutionary leader who would instigate a revolutionary movement that would kick the Roman Empire in the teeth and give the people justice.
Some believed Jesus was this political and military leader, but Jesus didn’t agree. The Law had suggested an “eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” a retributive justice that was fairer than the previous system where the powerful simply exacted as much penalty as they desired (Matthew 5:38). The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed offered a better way—the way of love. “Love your enemies,” Jesus said (v.44).
And this love is tangible. We pray for those who do us wrong (v.44). Rather than retaliating, we offer them generosity (vv.40-41). The way of the world makes human sense, but it isn’t the way of Jesus’ kingdom. When we walk the way of costly love, we will “be acting as true children of [God]” (v.45).
Read Luke 6:27. Mark down each command. How does the kingdom of God instruct us to treat our adversaries?
What concrete actions does God’s kingdom of love instruct you to do? How will you obey these instructions today?