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Reflections on Jesus teaching in Matthew 5
Matthew 5:43-45: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven
This idea is counter-cultural to virtually every culture that has ever existed. Humans have a strong sense of belonging, and develop a ‘them and us’ mentality wherever they are. Loving those around us who can help us and protect us makes sense. Hating those who threaten our welfare and security also makes sense, but that isn’t Jesus’ way.
Jesus’ way is God’s way, and he cares for everyone he has created, even those who actively reject him and try to encourage others to reject him too.
The problem is how do we achieve love for our enemies? I can control my actions, but my feelings don’t always obey my will. Jesus tells us how in the second part of his command. We are to pray for those who persecute us. It’s very hard to maintain hatred for someone when we are praying for them regularly. Try it.
Lord Jesus, I find it hard enough to love my neighbours, and I know I can’t love my persecutors in my own strength. Please give me your strength and your love to obey your command and follow your example. Amen.
This devotion and previous devotions in the series are available on the MU Sydney Facebook page.