Here is the introduction to my most recent sermon. Preached at King’s Parish (ARP) in Dallas, Tx, this past Sunday.
When my wife and I were having our morning Bible study recently, we came to this passage of scripture (Luke 6:27-36) before us and immediately felt the weight of conviction. Please don’t think that we would be alone in this. But for us, our experience is that we had to acknowledge that we do have enemies in our lives. This is a reality that few people will actually profess as Christians.
There are people in our lives who abuse us, who spitefully use us, who say things about us that would tarnish our characters and reputations. Yes, we have enemies.
No one likes to think that they have enemies. But all of us do. You can probably think of a few enemies that you have in your life as well. Be honest with yourself. There are clearly people who do not like you, no matter how lovable you are. There are people who would gladly bring you harm, no matter how kind you strive to be. There are those who would seek to destroy you given the chance. These people are your enemies.
The harshest truth about this, and the hardest cut of all, is the fact that often times, our worst enemies, the ones that seem the most evil and vial, are not the atheists, not the haters of Christianity, but are those who claim the name of Christ. What makes this especially difficult is because we expect hatred from the world, but not from our brothers in Christ.
What makes their actions so vile and repulsive is that by claiming to know Christ, and that they are known by Him, these people should know better than to abuse us, use us, and persecute us.
It makes the anger is us rise up. We want justice. We want vengeance. We want to get even–just like our culture does. What do I mean by that? Our culture thrives on getting even. We see it in politics. We see it in our movies. We see it in our own lives. This attitude is rooted in our sin nature and comes quite naturally to us, even to those who do not profess any religion. Just slap your friendly neighborhood atheist in the face and you will see this attitude rise up in his response.
All this to say, Christ would have us, as children of God, as those who are redeemed by His shed blood, as those who have been born again, as those who are new creations by the power of the Holy Spirit and His word, to act differently than the world.
In fact, Jesus, the Lover of our souls, the King of all creation, the final Judge of all creation, the Second Person of the Trinity would have us act toward our enemies as He acted toward us (while we were still His enemies)–in a spirit of love and charity.
“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.”