Dr. Jim Mann
“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27–28)
Our world is in chaos—filled with division and conflict. But God wants us to be peacemakers. In our church, we call this “waging peace.” If peacemaking is our goal, we eventually have to come to grips with the idea of loving the unlovely. It’s not too difficult to love the people we like, or the people like us, or the people who agree with us.
But what about loving people we don’t like. Those were the folks Jesus was talking about in Luke 6:27-28.
How do we walk this out? How do we love our enemies?
First, Jesus commands us to “do what is good” to the haters. We can’t preach the good news and be the bad news. We can’t respond to their bad attitudes with bad attitudes of our own. As Michelle Obama reminds us, When they go low, we go high.
Next, Jesus commands us to “bless those who curse” us. The word “bless” (eulogeo) literally means “to speak well of.” Obviously, this takes an outpouring of God’s grace in our lives—because our natural response is to defend ourselves—to criticize and point out faults of our opponents. David gave some good advice I find myself praying often, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).”
As impossible as it may seem, we can do it! Jesus promised, “Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.” (Luke 12:11–12, CSB) God promises to help.
Finally, Jesus tells us to “pray for those who mistreat you.” When we stop seeing them as our enemies, but enemies of God (just as we once were, see Col. 1:21), or Christians who are struggling at the moment, when we begin to realize their unloveliness is due to their hurt and bondage, then we can compassionately pray for them. We can ask God to reconcile them to himself and meet those deep needs they have in life.
Maybe then they will treat us and others better. Hope to see you Sunday!
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.