27“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31Do to others as you would like them to do to you.32“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.35“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. 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 who are unthankful and wicked.36You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
What is opposite of love?
Seems like an easy question. Right? Most would say hate. Google lists hate as the main antonym of love. Hate is definitely a far cry from love.
Others might say indifference. If I love my children, then I’m not indifferent about them playing in a busy street. Indifference may be worse than hate.
What about fear?
Fear may not be the exact opposite of love, but it definitely is antithetical to love. We know perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). That kind of love leaves no room for fear.
Fear and love can’t coexist.
Sermon on the Plain
Which brings us to today’s passage. It’s mirrors many of the same thoughts in the Gospel of Matthew known as the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, it’s called the Sermon on the Plain.
I shared about the Sermon on the Mount a couple of weeks ago. It’s not a moral code. It’s not Jesus’ list of 50 ways to live a better life. This is about the nature of God.
The Sermon on the Plain too outlines how God lives, and how we should follow.
How do we follow God when it comes to our enemies? We love.
In other words, we don’t live in fear of our enemies. We combat our fear of our enemies through love.
For many of us our enemy is the culture around us. Our battle is with culture – no matter what the culture is. We are told to fear. Fear government. Fear ISIS. Fear politics. Fear movies. Fear music. Fear public school. Fear Christian school. Fear money. Fear poverty. Fear failure. Fear success. Fear men. Fear women. Fear the church. Fear the secular. Fear the unknown. Fear the known.
I don’t care who you are, or where you are from; there is something out there to fear.
In this message, Jesus doesn’t tell us to fear. He tells us to love.
I understand. It’s not easy. It’s real to me. I have kids who live in a culture strange to me.
It’s not easy to answer questions like, “Where is the line between love and acceptance?” I don’t have easy answers, but I know the answers don’t live in fear.
Author Oswald Chambers wrote,
It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.
This week practice love. Love your enemies. Love those you fear. Love our culture. It may be new to you. It won’t be learned in five minutes, but soon you’ll be exceptional at it.
Don’t fear. Love.