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How Can God Love Both Me And My Enemies?

How Can God Love Both Me And My Enemies?
The good news of Jesus isn’t just that Jesus loves me. Of course that’s part of it, but the rabbit hole of God’s love goes way deeper than that. The really radical gospel message is this: God loves my enemies. To be like Jesus, I have to love my enemies, too.

I often don’t let this sink in enough: the incomprehensible nature of God’s love. The message that Jesus loves me, that he loves those whom I love – that’s nothing special. Any God, any religious system is going to provide that. In any human religion, the center of the moral universe is always me and mine. But Jesus points completely beyond me. His message removes me as the center of the moral universe. God himself becomes the center.

The God that Jesus points to doesn’t belong to me. He doesn’t belong to those whom I deem good people. He’s the God of all people, all creatures, all creation. God sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

God loves my enemies as much as he loves me. Even when they’re hurting me. God loved the enemies of Jesus, even as they were nailing him to the cross. Jesus loved his enemies so much, he was willing to lay down his life and to suffer a shameful death.

To me, that’s still incomprehensible. I have to admit, I don’t get it. To write these words is one thing; digesting their truth is another.

What it will take for me to truly believe and embrace that God loves my enemies? Jesus died for his enemies. If I’m going to be like Jesus, I have to be willing to die for my enemies.

I must be prepared to lay down my life. Not because I have to, and not because I feel guilt. Certainly not because I feel righteous. I must be ready to give up everything out of love for those who hurt, betray, and steal from me. If I am to be like Jesus, I must love those who threaten me.

That’s a tough pill to swallow. It doesn’t just feel superhuman and supernatural, but inhuman and unnatural. Nothing in my genetic makeup encourages me to love my enemies, and to pray for those who persecute me. There’s no natural instinct to risk myself for the sake of those who hate me.

And yet that’s exactly what God calls us to do. What seems natural to us, what has become natural in this fallen world, is in fact unnatural. God created the universe good, in unity with itself and with the Creator. But we live in a broken version of the love and symbiosis that God built into the creation.

The fallenness of our present reality manifests itself in how we respond to enemies. In this broken nature, forgiveness is impossible. Violence and hate are easy. It’s hard to act on what we know is right.

I need God’s guidance to respond to this world with love. I need the Spirit’s help to be able to tell the difference between justice and vengeance. I need God’s grace to see the face of Jesus in those who disappoint me, make me uncomfortable, and threaten my life.

For me, this will mean baby steps. I want to embrace Jesus’ courage on the cross, to ask God’s forgiveness for those who want to attack and kill me. But I should probably start by forgiving those who stole my lawnmower.

I need to be faithful in small things if I want to be prepared for big challenges.

Most of all, I need others to be Christ to me. I need people in my life who forgive me when I’ve done them wrong. People who show kindness to me when I’ve intended evil to them. My salvation is linked to those who show the love of Jesus when I’m only filled with hate.

I thank God for the way that he reaches out to me through others. I’m grateful for those who shine God’s light on both the righteous and unrighteous. Even when the unrighteous person is me.

Related Posts:

The Kingdom of God is Not a Meritocracy

How Can I Stay Awake in an Age of Distractions?

  • broschultz

    While God chose to honor our free will, he has no choice at all in who He loves. GOD IS LOVE. There is no darkness in Him at all.

  • charlesburchfield
  • Mariellen Gilpin

    I have learned to forgive those who trespass against me. I grit my teeth and do that — not easily, but with God’s grace it happens. However, I feel no necessity about also forgetting. Do something harmful to me, bad on them. If I let it happen a second time, bad on me.

  • BCZ

    Perspective, man. You aren’t the center of the universe. That how God loves you and your enemies. Your enemies are fully developed people. They were born. They had experiences. They often had really terrible experiences. They are in pain. They do wrong. You’ve done wrong. I’ve done wrong. We all get love in measure.

    You don’t think you’ve ever hurt someone more Godly than you? You don’t think ou haven’t done something much worse than steal their lawnmower (which really is just a thing without any moral value – unless you’ve gotten WAY more into the moral value of private property since your (and my) McReynold’s days 😉 )

    God sees it from the cosmic perspective. For all we know the people God’s most pissed at are the people at NASA who keep throwing junk into deep space that will eventually wipe out an entire planetary civilization… oops! 😉

    #QuakerBootCamp