Read Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NLT)
It is strange that everyone seems to be in favour of love but that we find it so very hard to truly love. Of course there are some who sentimentalise love and see it as fond feelings towards jolly nice people. In which case, love does come easily. The only problem with such sentiment is that it falls short of real love.
Jesus, who embodies love inasmuch as he embodies the God of love, speaks of a more uncomfortable love. It is not enough to love the lovely: that comes naturally. We are called to love the unlovely: that only comes supernaturally.
Loving those who make us feel good and do the right thing by us is not the deepest test of how loving we might be. How do we treat those who mistreat us, or who at least are of no possible use to us? Loving those who fail to love in return is the characteristic of God’s own extravagant love. He loves all indiscriminately. He offers friendship to those who are his enemies and offers mercy to those who wound him.
The perfection of which Jesus speaks is not about moral flawlessness but about discovering the truest and most mature sort of love. Not a ‘pick and choose’ sort of love, but a love that extends to all. That sort of love does not give moral approval to the loved one, but simply sees them as a valued if flawed human being. That sort of love can even help such a flawed human being become a better human being.