This story was originally published in the March 15 edition of the Courier-Herald.
It’s easy to succeed when you never try anything hard.
This is especially true when it comes to loving one another. We tend to divide the world into friends and enemies, then celebrate our friends and demonize our enemies. The great American paganism worships friendship, but God doesn’t. He aims higher.
Jesus said, “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?” (Matt 5:46-47). He said this in the context of his great command to “Love your enemies” (Matt 5:44).
But a lot of us don’t want to love our enemies because it is very hard. So we retreat into an anesthetic fog of sappy sentimentalism, never daring to tackle the high and holy calling of our so-called Master. Worse, we congratulate ourselves for it. We say that loving our friends proves what marvelous people we are. Nonsense! God says the test of my heart is my ability to love my enemies, not my friends. Lots of people retreat from this plain admonition because their souls are too weak and their faith too feeble to ever dare such raw and Christ-like cross-carrying. But if we run from his call, we seal ourselves away from his joy.
Don’t do that. Follow him instead, for he is leading you to life eternal, which begins here and now. The Bible says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2). He doesn’t regret loving his enemies. Neither will you. So which of yours will you bless today?
I’ll see you on Sunday. Be true!
Greg Daulton writes from the Mount Rainier Christian Center.