I would rather be challenged to love those I already love more. I know how they will respond and it will strengthen us. But this is not that challenge.
When Jesus teaches this in the Sermon on the Mount, He is talking to the people of Galilee and more importantly, His disciples. He is challenging them to express love towards a group that they would ordinarily avoid: their enemies.
Enemies can be one of two kinds, personal and impersonal. Personal enemies are people you know with whom you may have once been friends, but have had a falling out. You may have good reasons for your animus, and they might too. But these are faces you know and respond with revulsion.
Impersonal enemies are those you don’t know personally, but hate who they are anyway, be it politics, religion, authority or some other very good reason. Many people hate Trump, but very few know him. They hate what he stands for and the things he says, though he has not done anything personal to them.
And then there is the word used here for “love”. While Jesus probably didn’t speak Greek (but Aramaic), a special Greek Word is employed here to get across His meaning. As the Apostle Matthew records it, Jesus says we ought to agape our enemies, to love with respect and honor, even to the point of sacrifice of necessary. That is the most powerful love imaginable, because that’s how God loved us.
While we were enemies, God demonstrated His own love for us by sending His Son, who died for our sins. We who were enemies of God, were loved lavishly by Him. O the grace and love we have been given. May God never ceased to be praised for His marvelous gift!
So we who have been so lavishly loved. Now we must give that same love to our enemies. We must extend the same love given to us unto others. That is the challenge today. Not to those who will love us back, but to those who may not.
How will you show this love today? Can you? For it is the unique test of the Christian to show love in gratitude for the love showed to him. If we cannot share that love, then we haven’t really understood it.
God bless you in your walk today!