Jesus said: "You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." (Matthew 5:43-48)
Jesus challenges us. Let your enemy bring out the best in you, not the worst. Love the unlovable. Live generously and graciously to other people. We are citizens ("subjects") of the Kingdom now, not just later.
Remember what the Psalmist said: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Sometimes we think that is comforting, but, wouldn’t you rather have a meal someplace else? Yet, we find in the Gospels that Jesus often takes the opportunity to have meals with those who don’t like him much.
Who do you know that you would never want to sit and have a meal with?
What would you do if that person showed up at Breakfast in the Basement?
While Jesus' words here are certainly a challenge to us; let’s consider for a moment the alternative. What happens when we fail to love others? How long does it take for resentment sets in due to some perceived slight? How long does it take for that resentment to fester and grow?
The Kingdom path is not an easy path. It's complicated and difficult; it requires us to look at things differently, and more importantly, to see people differently. To begin the journey we must realize that Jesus' way is a path of unconditional love. Hate has no place in the Kingdom of God; we must begin to change our minds about hate.
Hate I will dominate your life, it will take root and grow, it will twist your perspective on other people, on ourselves, and on life. Have you ever taken the time to think about how many times you use the word "hate" through a day or week? I would make a guess that we all use, or just think, the word more than we actually realize. This week, just make an effort to note how many time you use the word “hate” in your speech or thoughts. Do you really want to “hate” this much?
God of Love, Help me see the people around me with Your eyes. Remove the hate I thoughtlessly allow into my life and replace it with the Love you have for all those people I meet. Help me change my mind. Amen.