You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 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. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. (NLT)
Love doesn’t come easily. At least, not if we evaluate love by Jesus’ standards. He will not let us off the hook by patting us on the back for feeling fondly towards loveable or attractive people. He defines love more broadly, telling us to love those who not only might not love us back but who may even hurt us.
Followers of Jesus do not live in some fantasy world of ideal friends, perfect partners, superior children or problem-free churches. It is much easier to feel the love on a wedding day than it is when the arthritic bones ache and when a day out together is spent in a doctor’s waiting room rather than a romantic restaurant. We practise our own imperfect love amidst the landscape of wider human imperfection.
God loves the whole world, not just the nice or agreeable people in it. He is an indiscriminate lover. We can’t attain that level of perfection here and now. We content ourselves with our selective compassion and seek to love within our human limits. And all the time praying for God’s help to better display the love he displays.
Much of what we call love comes quite naturally. Jesus’ sort of love only comes supernaturally.
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