We are all familiar with this difficult saying of Jesus that at times seems irrational, at others irresponsible. In the rough neighborhood of the Middle East we don’t think twice about defending our people, or killing our enemies when necessary. What’s love got to do with it?
Like all the sayings of Jesus, we need to look into the background and the discourse between the Messiah and the Jews to properly understand what he’s saying. Many have taken this verse to mean we must love those who are trying to destroy us. I’m not sure.
Let’s look at the passage and see if we can figure out what it means to love your enemy.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mt. 5:43-45)
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