Summary: We are Christians because of God's love....and we are Christians called to distribute God's love....this sermon explores the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-48 to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!!!
In 2010 the Australian Customs reported that they had seized over 1.1 million items that were counterfeit items…..
Some of the items included….watches with the Rolex name on them…but were definitely not Rolex, handbags claiming to be Luis Vuitton but fell apart soon after a purse was put in them. What is even more worrying is there were counterfeit medicines and drugs and on closer analysis these drugs were inferior to the products they were impersonating. Imagine thinking you're had a bargain only to discover that it wasn’t?
Unfortunately there are many different understandings about what it means to be a Christian, some of these are partially correct, some of these are counterfeit ideas about what it means to be a Christian and some of the ideas are based more on personal opinion than what the bible and what Jesus says. This is why today’s Gospel reading is important. It highlights one of the important characteristics or fruits that should come through our lives as we live as Christians, that we be people of love and forgiveness.
Listen to what Jesus says about forgiveness from Matthew 5:43 to 45 and verse 48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven….. 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
As a human being these are strong words
Love your enemies
Pray for those who persecute you
Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
That you maybe children of your Father in heaven
For me and most Christians I meet these words of Jesus are not just confronting but put a huge challenge before us…..
Take a moment to think about those people who have hurt you in your life!!!!
How many of them have you genuinely loved and forgiven??
Do you still have hurts and bitterness that you are holding onto??
How many people do you no longer have any relationship with or a very limited relationship with??
Are there people you struggle to have a relationship with simply because they remind you of someone who hurt you ??
Jesus says: “ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
For most of her life Christina has been coming to church….
She regularly hears God’s word….
She regularly hears words of forgiveness
She regularly says the words of the Apostles Creed including those words I believe in the forgiveness of sins
She regularly says the words from the Lord’s Prayer and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Then one day for some reason the words of the reading we heard from Matthew 5:38 to 48 had a great affect on her…..
Now Christina took seriously what was in the bible….but for some reason this reading seemed to speak to her more clearly
and so the words of Jesus
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….were like a huge wake up call!!!