Abide: Who Is My Enemy?

January 20, 2019

All right! Welcome to Cross Points! Thank you all for being here so much and guests that are here today, thank you so much for being here with us. 

Okay, so we are in the middle of a series called Abide. It’s not a word that we use much anymore, but abide simply means this: to remain, to connect, or to stay. Okay, remain, connect or stay. We are as Christians. If you’re a believer in Jesus today, God wants you to remain and connect and stay with Him, and if you found yourself here at Cross Points and maybe you’re checking out Christianity and you haven’t fully like, not quite sure about the whole thing, maybe someones invited you to come, I want you to know that God is inviting you to abide with Him, to remain with Him, to connect with Him, to stay with Him. And as you do that, the scripture says when you receive Jesus into your life, when you remain with him, then God makes all things new in your life. We just sang this song that says I’m not enough, God, I’m not enough until you come. You see, when you begin to say I’m not enough, and god I know that you are when you begin to say that, God comes on the inside and he’ll take away all the sin and the mistakes and the failures of the past, and you believe and trust in him then God makes everything new you become a new person in him. And so today maybe you might be here, I’m gonna give you an opportunity at the end of the service to maybe receive Christ, to receive Jesus into your life. He died for you and he loves you so very much. He doesn’t want you to just wander through life aimlessly. He’s got a purpose and a plan for your life. So we’re talking about abide. And many of you are believers in Jesus when you abide. Jesus uses this illustration of the vine and the branch, and the vine represents who God is, that he’s the source of life, and you’re simply a branch. And when you abide or connect or remain in the vine that life force, that life flow from God Himself then is in your life as well. When you sever yourself or take yourself out of the branch then you begin to wither and die. So it’s important for us to continue to remember that we’re called to abide, to remain, to connect. And as we do that, God’s life continues to flow in our heart. Last week I talked about the idea of love, that when we connect or abide to remain in Jesus, one of the fruits of it, one of the results, one of the overflow of abiding in Jesus is love. There’s this supernatural love that takes place when we abide into the branch who is God himself. Last week I talked about this idea of loving one another, that the world will know that you’re his disciples by the love that you have for one another. It’s a big deal, like loving one another is a huge deal. If you weren’t here last week, I encourage you to go back and watch that message because it really sets kind of a platform of kind of where we’re going.

Luke 6:27-30 NLT
27 But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.

Who is my enemy?

Today, I’m gonna take it just another step further because I want to kind of mention to you what Jesus tells his disciples when he says to them, I don’t want you just to love those who love you, I don’t want you just to love one another. Jesus says this in Luke 6:27 He says, but to you who are willing to listen. How many of you are willing to listen this morning? You’re willing to listen? Okay, good! That’s most of you, eighty percent. That’s pretty good. Okay. But to you who are willing to listen I say, love your enemies – whoo okay, we’re gonna get deep today, I hope you’re seatbelts on, ready to go – Jesus says, If you’re willing to listen, love your enemy, right, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give, give, give to anyone who asks, and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Now I want to set the stage this morning by letting you know those aren’t my words, okay? I didn’t make him up, I didn’t print him, I didn’t put him down. These are the words of Jesus. And if you’re a follower of Christ these are his words to you. And these aren’t just suggestions. These aren’t just good ideas. This is how God wants you to live. But the problem is, as we read through this passage, I think for many of us, when we have to ask the question, who is our enemy, who is your enemy? I was thinking about this passage and reading over and I saw lots of messages and lots of people talking about who is my neighbor. But when it came to the question of who is my enemy, not so much. I think most of us think of maybe we think of the Taliban or we think of Isis or we think of maybe old school like we think about the Nazis, you know those bad guys back there, out there, way out there, way over there. Those guys that are in the Middle East, those guys, and we, and if we’re not careful, we think of enemies as those way out there because I think most of us would say, well I don’t really hate anybody. I I really don’t have any enemies, not real enemies. But Jesus is clear here in this passage that enemies are not just someone somewhere out there that’s no name, no face. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Here I want us to read, reread these verses again with just a different context in mind. So we can go back, He says but you, if you are willing to listen, I say love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. In other words, they know who you are. You know who they are. And they hate you. Bless those who curse you.

Now I’m gonna put this in like, right where you live, there may be somebody in your life that really doesn’t like you because maybe you got the promotion that they wanted to get. Or maybe just maybe you were driving down the road and you cut someone off and they began to curse you. You ever had that happen? They flip the middle finger off at you? And on they go, or maybe there may be someone in your life that hurt you, that stabbed you in the back, that twisted the knife, someone that you really loved. Someone that was close to you, and they did you wrong. Maybe it’s someone at work. Maybe you weren’t real close to them. Maybe you were just co-workers and they said something behind your back and as a result of that, maybe you got demoted, or you didn’t get into the project that you wanted to get into, or maybe you were at school and maybe someone posted something online about you, and they said some nasty stuff about you and you ended up seeing it. Or you didn’t get invited to the big party that everybody was, that everyone else got invited to. And so you find yourself with some some real life people that you don’t like. And they don’t like you. I mean this is what Jesus is talking about here. And probably right now, there’s someone in your mind maybe that you can think of, that if I were to say their name, you would get just a little bit squeamish on the inside, then maybe the blood would begin to boil just a little bit, you would feel just a little bit uncomfortable. This you see that person, that individual, that’s who Jesus is talking about. He’s not talking about some enemy far away that you don’t know. He’s talking about the enemy that you live with, and work with, interact with, know and engage. That’s who he’s talking about. So what does he say again? If you’re a follower of Jesus – I’m not making this up – this is what Jesus says. He says, Do good to those who hate you. Pastor David, I can’t do that, that’s really hard! Yes, it is. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. But you don’t know what they did to me! I mean, it was so wrong! I’m sorry, not sorry. Jesus says, Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on the cheek then offer the other one as well. If someone demands your coat, take off your shirt. Give to anyone who asks. Maybe some of you have had some people in your life that have asked some money from you, and they’ve never paid you back. And you know how much they owe you, and they know how much they owe you, and they’re not saying anything. Jesus says, Give to anyone who asks and when things are taken away from you don’t try to get them back.

I had a conversation on several months ago here in the lobby. It was a couple that was visiting. They’ve been here for a couple of weeks and they were moving out of town. They were moving somewhere else but they chatted with me and said, Hey we’re involved in this lawsuit. These people that we know, they did us really wrong. I mean they owe us thousands of dollars, they said. So do you think it’s okay for us to to take them to court? I said, Well, you’re not gonna like my answer. They said, Well, what do you mean? I said, well, you just need to let it go. But you don’t know what they did to us. Like, it was really wrong! We’re just trying to get justice. I said, I know, you should just let it go. I said, That’s what Jesus said to do. See, this is what God calls us to do. And it’s not easy. I’m not saying that it’s easy. G K Chesterton – he was this writer author, he was also a little bit of a theologian as well – he said this:

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. – G K Chesterton

In other words, for for many of us, it’s so hard that we we just we can’t do it. It’s too difficult, Pastor David. I can’t do that! That’s too hard! I’m just curious because I want to take a pulse, make sure I’m talking to right crowd. When I talked about maybe someone that makes you irritated, that maybe has rubbed you the wrong way, your oil and why can’t anybody got anybody in mind? Just lift your hand, I’m just curious. . . Okay, good. I’m sorry, I just wanted to make sure I was talking to the right crowd, cause I can raise my hand too, okay? So I’m trying to make sure that the rubber meets the road today. I’m not trying to talk up here, I’m trying to talk about where you are. Jesus says you’re to love those people, to do good to them, to pray for them. So then the question becomes, well why why why does Jesus want us to love our enemies? Why? Well, in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus makes it clear. He says this. He says, you’ve heard that the law says love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. We’re saying the same thing here. Then He says this, He says, in that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

So you you could almost say that when we love our enemies, when we do good to those who persecute us, when we pray for those who persecute us, then then we’re acting like God himself. In other words, I’m gonna put it this way. I’m gonna say this a couple of times. Your identity is not wrapped up in the hurt and the pain that someone else has done to you. Your identity is wrapped up as a child of God who loves you. And if you’re not careful your identity will be wrapped up in the people that have hurt you and done you wrong. I can go back years in my own life where this one person stabbed me in the back who shall remain nameless, but really did me wrong. What happened isn’t that as a result of my bitterness and anger and frustration and hurt and wounds as a result of that my identity was was trapped in that relationship which was so negative. It kept me from being all that God intended me to be because my identity was in that, instead of in my relationship with God. I think there’s probably many of you here that your identity is being formed by the hurts and the wounds that are around you instead of your identity being in Christ. So you have an option. If you can love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you something releases supernaturally in your lives. It’s what I discovered, it took a while for me to discover, but I began to put what I was reading in Scripture into practice. I began to say to this person who shall remain nameless, God I don’t like them, but I pray that you would bless them. God they’ve hurt me, but I pray that you would pour out your favor upon them. It was really hard. I was like, God, this is hard. And I don’t like it. And I don’t want to be around that person. But God, would you bless them, cause your favored to fall upon them. And as I began to do that, my identity was less in this relationship and more in who God and I were. I was making myself a true son of God Himself. And when you begin to do that, what will happen is that those chains of identity into the hurt and the pain and – all of those things will begin to be slowly cut from your life. And as a result you’ll be able to experience the floodgates of God’s favor in your own life. But see when you find your identity and the hurt and the pain and the anguish and all of that, then you’re all tied up, and you can’t receive the goodness that God has for your own life. So in reality when we forgive others, really what we’re doing is, we’re releasing freedom in our own lives. You need to do that.

That’s why Jesus came. He came so that you might have life, life to the full. He came to set you free from the power of darkness, and he’s given you that ability. He’s given you that power, by receiving Christ in your life, okay? When you receive him in your life then you become his child. You’re not just made in His image, now you’re his child. And as a result of doing that, you’re gonna act like a true child of your Father in heaven.

Look at this next part of the verse.

Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 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. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Why should we love our enemies?

He says, For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good. You see in a sense God doesn’t play favorites. He sends his rain on the just and the unjust alike. And then Jesus makes it really clear. He says if you love only those who love you what reward is that? And then just to make sure He lands the punch He says, even corrupt tax collectors, even corrupt politicians, do that much. Hello? Everybody there, you hear what I’m saying? Jesus says, I have a better way for you. You see, the world the world will say, get even. The world will say, stab them in the back. If they put you down will you put them down. They said something about you online, will you go ahead and put one over on them, and put something else online? What’ll happen is that the heat and the noise will get louder and louder and louder. Jesus says, that’s what the world does. That’s what everybody does. They’re gonna love the people that love them, and they’re gonna hate the people that hate them. But Jesus says, if you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. Jesus says but you are to be perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect. You see, the reason why we love our enemies is because it proves that you’re a child of God, that you’re different. This is why Jesus came. Like, He’s a revolutionary. I think we forget that in our 21st century American culture that Jesus came to go against the grain of the world. He says take the low road. Take the humble road. Take the soft approach. Don’t try to make more of yourself than you are. To forgive and to love others – that’s radically different. And it’s hard to do. Jesus says love your enemies. Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.

He says this, then your reward from heaven will be very great. Your reward from heaven will be very great. There’s rewards involved. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s hard for us to kind of put our heads around that. But God wants to reward you when you do the very things that he’s called you to do. Part of that reward of letting go is allowing him to pour out his favor in your life. I don’t care about the rewards of the world, I don’t care about a promotion or more money. I want God’s favor in my life. That transcends any other reward I could even begin to think about, okay? Yeah, a couple of you got it. I want to say this one more time. God’s favor is worth more than a million dollars. God’s favor is worth more than owning the business that you work for. God’s favor is worth more than a billion dollars. It’s worth more than anything. You can’t put a price tag on it. So I want heaven’s reward. I want God’s reward. I want to step into his favor. When I let go and I forgive people and I’m doing good to those that internally drive me crazy, when I bless them and begin to pray for them, and actually are kind to them and do like acts of kindness towards them. . . oh my goodness! Not just driving through a drive-through and paying for the guy behind you. It is actually the people that irritate you the most. I’m challenging you this week to do something good to them. When you do that your reward will be very great. You’ll be amazed at the favor that God begins to pour into your life as a result of acting like him, because he looks down and he smiles. He says that’s my boy. That’s my girl. That’s my son, that’s my daughter, I’m proud of them. Then he lavishes his grace and his favor and his goodness and his kindness and his mercy in your life.

I want that. I want that. Then your reward from heaven will be very great and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those – look at this – He is kind to those who are and thankful and wicked. Anybody know some unthankful, ungrateful people in your lives? Let me see your hands out there if you know some unthankful, ungrateful, maybe even some wicked people. Well, Jesus says, what are you supposed to do: love them, pray for them, do good to them. Why? Because your reward will be great. Not the reward of the world, but the reward that God has for you. So here’s how he wants you to act, okay? He wants you to have what the Bible calls agape love. Agape is a Greek word. It just simply means love, but it’s a deep kind of love. It’s an unmerited, undeserved, unconditional kind of love. This is not just the kind of love that we have for one another. This agape love is the love that we’re called to love those who hate us, and the ones that we don’t like as well. That’s what we’re called to do. Know you are not enough. Can you repeat that after me? I am not enough, okay? Let me just say that one more time. I am not enough, okay? I want to make sure you understand that. You can’t do it in your own strength. You’ll fail. That’s part of what Christianity is all about, is you saying I’m not enough. God, I need you because you are more than enough. You’re more than able.

So when we abide in Jesus we’ll be able to love our neighbors. Follow with me just for another moment or two, and I’m going to close. If you try to love those that you don’t love, and that you don’t like, in your own strength, I promise you it’s gonna come back and bite you. You’ll get hurt. You’ll get disappointed. You’ll falter. You’ll fail. You’ll get tired of it. You won’t see any results and it’ll be just tragic for you. But when you’re able to stay connected into Jesus and his love, his agape unconditional, unmerited favor flows through your life, then you’ll be able to continue to love those people that are unlovely all the days of your life, even if they don’t change, as long as you stay connected to God. Why? Because when we stay connected to God, our first understanding should be, God, I was your enemy, I made all kinds of mistakes and failures and sins, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with you. I made so many mistakes and so many regrets in my life, but God, You loved me even when I was your enemy. God, You loved me, You died for me. You went to the cross for me at my worst, lowest moment. Even when I was at my best, which was nothing compared to who You are, You still died for me. You still gave Your life for me. You still loved me unconditionally. Even to this day when I make mistakes and I fail and falter, You still love me. You see, when you’re connected into that kind of vine, that life flows through you. You’re able to say to the people around you, I’m still gonna love you, even though you don’t deserve it, even though you irritate me, even though you make me mad, even though you know your blood boils when I’m around you. I’m able to love you. I’m able to pray for you. I’m able to ask God to do wonderful things in your life because it’s not me doing it, it’s an overflow of my relationship with God. So abide.

What does it practically mean?

I’ve given you a couple of ways throughout the last couple of weeks. The first one is, I want you reading your Bible, because when you read your Bible, it’s like the words of Christ come into your life and they continue to transform you into the image of who God wants you to be. So if you’ve been a believer in Jesus for more than 10 years, I want you reading through the whole Bible this year. And if you’re a believer maybe less than five years or so, then read through the New Testament. Take the whole year and read through the New Testament. You can find it on a Bible app, and find it online. Pick up a Bible and read it. I promise as you do that you’re abiding in Christ.

We abide in Christ by connecting with one another. I want you to go back and sign up for our connect group, a small group. It meets six weeks and I promise as you do, that you’re abiding with others who are abiding with Christ. When we have those relationships that are all loving God, it affects us as well. One way to abide with God is to abide with each other, to love each other, that we don’t isolate ourselves from one another. That’s another way in which you abide. So go back and sign up in a small group if you’re not in one and then today.

The next thing I want to challenge you to do in you’re abiding with Christ. . . you need to spend time worshiping Jesus throughout the week, okay? I just want to push you towards this. Like, you need to get in your car, if you’re driving to work, turn off talk radio, turn off the news, find a station or put a CD or an mp3 or whatever it is that you have in your car, and put some worship music in there, and start driving to work. All week long worshiping Jesus. Or you get home, take 10 minutes before you go to bed. Pop on some headphones and play some worship music. Because the reason why would you begin to do that, when you begin to worship God and sing and begin to have your eyes lifted from the things that are going on in the world, when you have your eyes tilted towards heaven, you begin to realize, God You’re good. You’re merciful. You’re kind. You’re loving. You’re beautiful. You’re wonderful. You rule. You reign. You’re the King of kings and the Lord of lords. You’re the One who forgives me and loves me and saves me. See, your mind is now taken off this world that irritates you, and it’s put on Jesus. Then you can recognize who He is. Then you’re being able to look at people around you, and you can say, I can love you the same way that God loved me. But you can’t do that if you’re not abiding into the branch, if you’re not connecting and remaining with Jesus. That’s why he wants you connected to the vine. It’s only as you do that, that you’ll be able to change the world with the people around you. And you just might – here’s the beautiful part – you just might see Redemption with someone that irritates you. You might just be the one that leads them into a relationship with Jesus. God may have put them in your life on purpose so that they could see the redemption of God. It’s much like Joseph who was thrown into a pit. His brother sold him into slavery. His own brothers were his enemies. Joseph didn’t get bitter, he got better. He trusted God, he worshipped Him. Throughout his entire life and years later, almost three decades later he sees his brothers. Instead of having bitterness in his heart, he has forgiveness. And as a result of that, his brothers are redeemed. They’re saved. Joseph said, what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. Could it be in your life, the people that are in your life, that God may have placed you there for a purpose? So that they could come to know a good God that loves them even when they are unlovely?

Would you close your eyes and bow your heads with me this morning? I know some of you you raised your hand with someone you thought of that irritated you or frustrated you, or maybe you might even have the courage to say, that person is my enemy right now. . . I want you to have that person or persons in your mind and we’re gonna we’re gonna pray. I’m gonna pray for you, that God would enable you to love them, even as he loved you. If you have that person or persons in your mind, and you really want to love them, then you know that you need to, and you’re asking for God’s help and grace, would you just raise your hand? I’m gonna pray for you right where you are, and ask God to give you the strength and the ability to do do that. God, I pray for those who have their hands lifted high, they know who those people are, that person is, and I pray that You would give them a supernatural love that would go beyond themselves. Lord, I pray that as they connect and remain in You this week, and in the weeks to come, that the overflow would be love, that agape love that’s unmerited and undeserved. May it flow through your people. God, I pray that we would see the miraculous take place in relationships, God, that people would be blown away by the goodness of your people here in this place. Lord, with those that are contrary, Lord, those that have put them down, have hurt them, that have been offensive to them, Lord, I pray that we would be able to release all of that. And that God, you would do the impossible in our lives, Lord, I pray that we would let go and allow your Holy Spirit to flow through us. Would you use us to pray for those people that have heard us and stabbed us in the back. God, I pray that we would be different. That we would be just like you – loving those who are hard to love. God, I thank you that supernaturally God, you’re gonna do something, Lord, even right now as we have our hands lifted high. It’s a stake in the ground that says that I’m gonna live differently now, and I’m gonna offer forgiveness and love towards the unlovely. I pray that you would do that with your people, in Jesus’ name. 


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