The Command To Love

Luke 6:27-36
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 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. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
     We encounter a commandment from Jesus in Luke 6:27-36; to love our enemies. This teaching is not just something to somewhat agree with, but a tangible, actionable directive that reshapes our understanding of love and how we interact with those around us, including those we might consider our enemies.
    The concept of loving one’s enemies breaks sharply with traditional attitudes, which often veer towards animosity or even hatred towards those who oppose us. Jesus' teachings challenge us to move beyond the instinctive reactions of retaliation or bitterness. Instead, we are called to a higher standard of active love that reflects the very nature of God's love for us.
    What strikes me most about this command is that it is not rooted in the emotion of love but in the decision to act lovingly. This is a crucial distinction. Jesus is not asking us to feel affection for our enemies but to choose to act in ways that demonstrate love. This could mean doing good, blessing, and praying for those who may hate us or wish us harm. It's a love that goes beyond reciprocity – it's not about loving those who love us in return but about extending love even to those who might not.
    Luke's emphasis on loving enemies is further highlighted by his use of the term "everyone" in the command to give to anyone who asks. This small but significant addition indicates that our love should be indiscriminate, mirroring God's impartial kindness.
    Another aspect that Luke brings to light is the connection between loving one’s enemies and the broader theme of forgiveness and non-judgment. We see this in Jesus' own actions, notably his plea for forgiveness during his crucifixion and echoed in Stephen's prayer while being stoned. This shows us that love for our enemies is not just a feeling but an extension of grace and forgiveness.
    What we learn from Luke is that Christian love is not passive; it's an active, ongoing choice. It's a love that doesn't depend on the worthiness or actions of others but stems from a desire to emulate God's unconditional love. This teaching is not an unreachable ideal. Luke believed that the same Spirit that empowered Jesus is available to us, empowering us to choose love over hate, even in the most challenging circumstances.
    Loving our enemies is an integral part of loving our neighbors. It's a command that requires a transformation of our will and a reorientation of our actions. It's about showing the world a different way to live, a way that is countercultural and radical, yet deeply rooted in the very essence of what it means to follow Christ.
  1. In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus challenges us to a kind of love that goes beyond our natural responses. Often, we may feel inclined towards seeking justice or retribution when wronged. This aspect of human nature can make it difficult to fully embrace the radical love Jesus teaches. How do we reconcile the natural human inclination for justice or retribution with Jesus' command to love and do good to our enemies?
  2. A key aspect of Jesus' teaching in this passage is the practical application of love towards those we might consider our enemies. This love is not just theoretical but requires concrete actions and attitudes that can be challenging to implement in our daily lives. In practical terms, what are some ways we can actively love and pray for those we consider our enemies?
  3. Living out the command to love our enemies is not a solitary endeavor but one that benefits from communal support and understanding. As we navigate the complexities of this command, it's important to consider how we as a community can support each other in this journey. How can we support each one another in the journey of extending love to our enemies, and what might be some obstacles we need to overcome?

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