Loving our Enemies

Does Jesus expect us to do the impossible in our dealings with people? He tells his followers: love your enemies, pray for those who mistreat you; if someone seizes your necessities like a coat, give them more – like your inner clothing as well (Luke 6:27-31).

Just as we have frowned in disbelief, caught our breath and then worked out how we can minimise or even evade the literal meaning of what he has just said, he then unloads even more demands which seem unlikely to be realistic.

He puts his finger on three of our common expectations that we have in our dealings with others. It is no credit to us if we love those who love us. Nor is it a demonstration of our ‘love of neighbour’, when we do good to those who do good to us, or we lend to those we expect repayment. Jesus points out even your average, happy, secular person will do the same (Lk 6:34). If I love those who love me, what’s so good about that? Everyone does that.

Jesus wants us to move beyond doing things for others out of selfinterest or our expectation that we will be repaid in some way. (It’s only fair that they should we think.) We are to lend  (even to our enemies), without expecting them to give anything back (6:35). Why? Why are we expected to ‘go the extra mile’? (Matt 5:41)

Because we are to express by our treatment of others, what our heavenly Father’s treatment is of all people. He is merciful and kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (6:35) Our sense of fairness is not the same as God’s. Our values are to mirror those of our Lord, who gave himself to sinners and loved his enemies (1 Peter 2:12, 21). 

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