The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Love Your Enemies?

Jesus was accused of being too liberal and John the Baptist was accused of being too conservative, but “wisdom is known by her children.” The Way of Truth is not defined by either of those camps. People who prefer an unholy mixture of religion/secular power over authentic Christianity will try to label you, just as they labelled both Jesus and John. I’m learning to shrug off the meaningless talk, and keep my attention to the commands He is giving me. Souls, including my own, depend upon it.

There is a way of holiness for God’s people to walk on in these troubled times. Even THESE troubled times, with terrorist attacks and refugees coming to live among us?–Yes, especially in these times! These are opportunities to walk by faith and serve the Lord Jesus by ministering to both physical and spiritual needs. But what if they are a trojan horse, and what if some evil person hurts us? This is different. We need to get in the flesh and use common sense, right? This is not “different,” brothers and sisters; this is the real thing. Remember that Jesus’ original target audience was under military occupation by a foreign country. And remember that some of the apostate Jews were all too eager to use their influence to harness Roman military power and use it against the followers of the Way (Christians). Remember that those who believed His words went on to die for them in countries all over the world. When Jesus taught us to love both neighbor AND enemy, this is what He was talking about. He never intended for us to apply His words only in inconsequential situations, and then revert back to the ways of the world when real danger arrives.

We could park in the following ten verses, meditate on them, and plead with the Father to increase our faith, so that we can be blameless in difficult times. Or we can try to narrowly apply them only to situations that won’t cost us anything, and at the first hint of danger, run off and join the “common sense” crowd that despises and rejects this Word. We must make a choice between faith/obedience and fear/disobedience.

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

Well, what does this passage really mean? I venture to claim it means exactly what it says. It’s not puzzling in the least unless your heart has already decided to get around it.

Those who walk and teach that holy way will be criticized, even and sometimes especially by the professing Christians who tend to dominate the public conversation (God’s remnant is “few” compared to “many”–Matt. 7:13-14). One pastor I know who is teaching the truth was recently called a “disgusting pacifist” by someone who claimed to be a Christian. She and others like her are encouraging more violence against whole communities of people, and of course, the world hears them and agrees with them because they walk just as the world does (1 Jn. 4:5). But if we obey Jesus’ teachings, and do not attempt to rationalize them away due to fear and unbelief, then we will abide in Him–

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10).

The just man shall live by his faith–not fear, self-love, patriotism, or the growing frenzy of the world around him.

To be a real Christian–to actually keep Jesus’ commands– is to be vulnerable in the presence of the wicked, because agape love is vulnerable. Was Jesus not vulnerable for your sake? Weren’t you wicked? Or have you always been so perfect that you deserved His magnificent sacrifice? (Rom. 5:8)

Either we keep His commands, or we stop abiding in Him. How sad it would be to truly think we are His disciples while living and teaching contrary to His commands. How sad to believe the Prince of Peace is our God, while contributing to the destruction around us. Yet many western Christians are that deceived.

Yes, the love of many is growing cold, now that the pressure is on. They are turning aside from God’s commands that we love everyone including our enemies, and live sacrificial lives with our focus on the eternal kingdom. They are turning back to self-worship or nation-worship and materialism. They are turning aside to vengeance against those who threaten their security. Once their comfort is threatened, they are quick to walk in the flesh via trying to manipulate current events through politics and the bloodshed of war. In doing this, they are no longer “set apart” but merely doing what everyone else on the wide way is doing. Some only follow Jesus while the “free food” manifests, but once a real test of faith comes, they leave Him (Jn. 6:66).

Some pulpits have long ago frozen over, with pastors urging their flock to be heavily armed and to take up the sword against those who don’t know God. This, they claim is “waking up.” I call it apostasy. Not only will they not lay down their own lives for the gospel, they stop others from doing so. Some claim to preach holiness but refuse to preach “seeking peace with all people,” and in fact preach the opposite, thereby undermining any notion of true holiness. Both are non-negotiable if we want to enter into life (Heb. 12:14).

Christians are not here for the unrestrained “pursuit of happiness” (which is only one of the ways Americanism departs from the Truth). If that’s what you’re here for, you may as well stop following Jesus now because the cost is out of your range. (My heart is not that you stop following, but that you repent!) Our “constitutional rights” are nothing compared to the right we have as children of God–the blood-bought right to give up our earthly rights and be obedient even to the point of death (Phil. 2:5-8). America (or another country) is not the promised land–it is the stark wilderness in which we are being humbled and tested, to see if we will keep His commands (Deut. 8:2)–yes, even the commands to love our enemies. It is only those who endure the temptation and continue in faith who will receive the crown of life (James 1:12). Tap your tent stakes in the ground lightly, friends, lest love of this world and its lusts separates you from God (I Jn. 2:15-17). Only those who endure to the end in obedience to Jesus will be saved.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Pet. 2:11-12)

So what will you do with these basic and fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ?–

1. Love your neighbor as yourself
2.  Love/forgive/do good to your enemy

If you are simple enough to believe/obey the Son of God without creating 50 theological loopholes for your flesh to escape through, these commands need no explaining. If you’re simple enough to believe/obey, you won’t have to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” or “What kind of enemy?” If you’re simple enough to believe/obey, you won’t be tempted to follow the obsolete covenant instead of the New one.

If you’re more concerned with what God will say to you on Judgment Day than what the flag-waving, warmongers will say on Sunday, this is simple to understand. You won’t need a 100 page essay on what He really meant and why this doesn’t apply. The simplest disciple of Jesus can receive this. I know the people of the world cannot receive it, and that is why their retribution begets more retribution begets more retribution, ad infinitum. The question is, can YOU (professing Christian) receive it? If you can only believe, the power to walk it out will also be supplied.

Never forget what the inhabitants of God’s kingdom look like:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

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