by Carolyn Schmitt
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Emphasis added) Matthew 5:43-48 AMP
If I had been sitting among the crowd on that mountainside when Jesus was saying those revolutionary words, I can imagine that I might be thinking, “Impossible!” Maybe even “How dare you say that!”
As I, a Gentile, looked around at the crowd and saw some Roman soldiers there to prevent a disturbance, or some of the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted nothing to do with the likes of me, I might feel that Jesus couldn’t be speaking to me. I ignore, if possible, those who I considered my enemies, or tolerate those who I couldn’t get along with, while showing love?
I was there because of the things people were saying about this man who was going around Galilee (my home country), talking about the “Kingdom of God” — also because some of my friends had been healed by him of their infirmities. So I came to see this man, Jesus of Galilee, for myself.
I listened to him talk about the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, and others who didn’t fit the culture, but whom He called “as blessed”. I heard him talk about how we were like “Salt and Light” and could bring honor to God by being salt and light in the world.
I felt so drawn to him. Whenever I could manage it, I was in a crowd where I could see and hear him. Like all of those on that mountainside that first time, I could not have imagined where Jesus’ teaching and healing would lead. Certainly not a cross, a resurrection, an ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit to live inside us, to enable us to learn to love and pray for and do good to our enemies.
As you continue to join us in praying “The Lord’s Prayer” this week, thank Our Father in Heaven for sending the Holy Spirit to enable us to do what cannot be done on our own.