Jesus said, “But what I say to you is: Love your enemies, and pray for those who are persecuting you, so that you may become children of your heavenly Father, because he causes his sun to rise on those who are evil as well as on those who are good, and causes rain to fall on people, whether they do what is right or not.”
— Matthew 5:44-45 (USC)
What is Jesus saying here?
That’s the question ushered through my mind; the one pulsating through my heart. Jesus was known to speak in riddles, or at least it can seem to us that way. Surely he speaks these ways to pique within us the curiosity to know more; to dig into the spiritual fissures of the unknown moralities of God.
So, the sun rises and the rain falls on good and evil people alike.
The first thing that God reveals in my discerning is the base equality of life. God loves everyone, without favouritism. Even if I or you would be the most ardent disciple of Christ, God loves me and you no more than the murderer on death row or the paedophile who is still at large. Does this seem weird to you?
It’s not weird at all. Our Lord loves sinners, but hates sin, and we all sin. And in God’s economy all sin is equally bad, notwithstanding if it’s only thought upon. Not that we are condemned for our sin; the grace of God, through Jesus’ prevailing for us on the cross and through his resurrection makes all the difference.
Yes, Jesus died for the murderer and paedophile as he did for us. He rose again that we might all – all of us inherent sinners – have new resurrection life due radical obedience to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
So now comes the crunch.
We are one as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one.
As we are the same in our innate predilection toward and of sin, we are to love the one against us as we truly would like to be loved. To think we are better is to fall for the error of self-righteousness. There is only One who is righteous. Let’s not make that mistake.
God punishes us our unforgiveness through the bitter resentments we form. We hurt only ourselves in our choices to defer grace.
We forgive easily when we understand how similar we are to the sinner who hurt us. Because we, too, are so readily capable of hurting we forgive them who have hurt us.
How do we become children of our heavenly Father? By loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. How are you challenged regarding humankind’s common disposition to sin? What similarities and differences do you note between yourself and others regarding sin?
2. Do you find Jesus cuts to the heart of matters, here, or do you still struggle with his rationale (or do you struggle with my rationale)? How so? And how might such a struggle help you plumb your way through?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.