"You have heard that is was said, 'Love you neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-45
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus saw the crowds gathering, and he took this opportunity to teach them truths that would change the world. Matthew 7:28-29 says, "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law." Jesus was God's Son, and he had authority to speak truth. One of the truths that Jesus taught that day on the mountainside had to have been hard for these people to swallow. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said something that would forever shatter the way mankind SHOULD live. He said, "You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Notice that I said Jesus said something that would forever shatter the way mankind SHOULD live. I didn't say WOULD live. The words that Jesus spoke on the Sermon on the Mount are words of truth. Be he gives us a choice to choose the truth that he speaks or to choose our own way, the way of the world. It seems like more people are choosing their own way, the way of the world. As Christ followers, Jesus called us to be different. He called us to live against the grain of the world. He called us to love not only those who are lovable but also to love those who are unlovable. He called us to pray for those who persecute us. Our selfish sin nature that we were born with fights against these powerful words. Many times when someone attacks us or disagrees with us we would rather fight back and attack those who attack. But Jesus calls us to love back and pray back rather than fight back. This is the way we SHOULD live. This is the way we SHOULD love. This is the way we SHOULD pray. As I read this passage this morning, I found myself in the same place that crowd of people found themselves in that day. I am amazed at his teaching. I am amazed at his authority. Today, my prayer is not for God to change others. My prayer is that God would change me. I don't want these words of Jesus simply to be the way I SHOULD live. I want these words of Jesus to be the way I WOULD live. Amen.