I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
When you read the Bible and it describes Christianity, and then you look at yourself, do you ever wonder whether you’re a Christian at all? I know I do.
Neither our assurance as believers nor God’s love for us hinges on our ability to live out certain Christian principles; rather, both depend on what Christ has achieved for us on the cross. Even so, the Bible teaches us to look for evidences of our salvation in the present. If we truly are the Father’s children, we are bound to display a love for others that resembles Jesus’ love for us.
Jesus calls for us to love people in a way that is not related to their attractiveness, merit, or lovability. We know that this is exactly how God loves us—His love is not based on us cleaning up our act, deserving His attention, or demonstrating that we’re predisposed towards or useful to Him. None of these things contribute to God’s love for us. No—“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).
The greatest measure of our faith, then, is love—love that reflects the love that we have received in such abundance. We engage in agape love—unconditional, sacrificial love—because it is an expression of the character of God and all He’s done for us. We don’t exercise this kind of love for our enemies because we are blind to who they really are but because we have gazed at God’s love for us. Jesus says that when we see others as they are—in all of their ugliness and spitefulness, all of their cursing, all of their hatred, and all of their unwillingness to pay us what they owe us—we are to be realistic about all of it, and then love them. Seeing all of that enmity, says Jesus, I want you to love your enemies.
By nature, we are incapable of displaying such love. But consider the kind of difference we would make to our culture if we were prepared to live out, in both everyday and extraordinary ways, a Christlike love which seeks to do what’s best for those who have acted in enmity towards us. That would be revolutionary—without any question at all.