But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
(Luke 6:35-36 ESV)
The teachings of Jesus are still astounding.
He has gathered his disciples and from them selected apostles. Those who would be with him, share life with him and be in it together with him until the end. From there he serves not just the apostles and the disciples but the even larger crowds who emerged when they knew he was around.
This provided the context for Jesus to offer teaching that reinforced his ministry. The content of the teaching highlighted just how radical the Kingdom lifestyle was. By radical it was a call back to the root of their existence as coming from God.
Among the radical teaching was the mark of the follower as someone who loves as God loves. That kinda love still challenges followers of Jesus today.
It’s the kind of love that extends to enemies, those who misuse and abuse, those who actively persecute people for following Jesus. That kind of love takes much. To pray for their wellbeing, to show kindness in the face of hatred, to extend mercy in response to bitterness and malice – these are not natural reactions. Even as Jesus refers to treating others as you would want to be treated, it’s something extraordinary to have this kind of love for those who reject you and utterly abhor what you stand for.
That’s why the only reference point for this kind of love is the merciful nature of God. Despite humanity rejecting Him, He still provides for their every need. Despite their outright animosity and rebellion to Him, He continues blessing them and crowning this cause by even sending His only Son for them. That Son typified that by even including the one who would betray him among those he called closest to walk with him.
Living this kind of life is not something we can do by sheer willpower, grit and determination. Living this kind of life calls on us to look to and rely on the example who calls us to walk closely with him, so that even as he lives, so we can live and as he loves, so we can love.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden