Loving our Enemies, Matthew 5:43-48. June 17, 2020 by Buckshot

This reflection can also be viewed on our Youtube channel here

Nga mihi mahana ki a koutou, warm greetings to you all from Zac’s Place – our mostly dry bar that we use for open nights, meetings and the odd ride here in Wellington. It is great to be part of a team of people sharing their thoughts each Wednesday on the life of Christ and how this is very real still for us today.

The last few weeks the lectionary has been taking us day by day through the Sermon on the Mount. Corky introduced it well last week with his thoughts on Jesus not coming to demolish anything from before him, but to complete it. This Sermon on the Mount is a pretty good summary of the life and teaching of Christ, well worth digging into, reflecting on and seeking out how to live these dynamic truths today.

Today the text we have is from Matthew 5, verses 43-48. Much of Jesus’ teaching is difficult to actually live out and this text must be close to the hardest, close to the one we most want to dodge and explain away. This text is so stunning and important that I will read it entirely:

“You have heard how it was said ‘you will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. BUT I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes the sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends rain down to fall on the upright and the wicked alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Wow…… think on that, imagine what the world could be like with this type of leadership and example!

I will start with the easy bit – the perfection of God. This is not about getting a perfect score or keeping all the rules without fault. Perfection is not about being a holy roller or squeaky clean person who does nothing wrong. Mercy is the action that shows God’s perfection – his mercy never comes to an end or another old line your mercy is new every morning……

None of us, not even one of us is able to be that good that we won’t need mercy sometime. God or someone shows us mercy when they don’t give us what we deserve – bro, you really pissed me off when you dropped me in it today, but I am not going to hold it against you…..let’s move on and try to do better next time. This is the way to keep relationships alive, this is the way the trinity operates in its communal dance.

And so this concept of mercy flows on in the heart of God and the korero of Christ today to how we engage or respond to our ‘enemies’. Some may feel that they have no enemies, but we all have people who get under our skin and make us angry. Maybe its another MC, or our spouse, or our neighbour, or the cop on the picket line that kicks and pushes us or even a whole tribe of people we are actually at war with seeking their harm or downfall.

As Jesus noted today, being loving to those on our side or like us is just a normal easy thing that everybody does. This type of self-love will never reveal the kingdom of God, will never let loose the spirit of transformation or show off that amazing vision of lions lying beside lambs peacefully. It is this idea that informs the practice of God’s Squad to be friends with people on the other side – which is why we will not align ourselves with any particular MC and may be friends with someone you don’t like or are
at war with.

So today we have this idea that is hard for many to accept, but it is core to the practice of following Jesus. We seek to love our enemy, to do good to those who may hate us – we pray for them and seek their best. We will not throw bombs or shoot at you but will in the spirit of the God of mercy search for ways to build a bridge of friendship, to work through the separation or pain, strive to find a way that we can creatively live together in peace.

It’s a hard teaching, but it is the way to change the world and become more like Jesus who we follow.

Maybe you have never tried this way…… give it a go and allow the power of God to truly transform our lives today.

Rangimarie o te Ariki ki a tato

Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand

This reflection can also be viewed on our Youtube channel here