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!!!

Now most people wouldn’t think that Christina had enemies

She was a gentle soul

But she knew that in reality there were some people she treated as enemies

She held grudges against some people

There were some people she didn’t like being around because of what they had said or done in the past, some many years ago.

And there were some people she always thought had hidden agendas whilst others she treated as if they could do no wrong.

She would make life difficult for some but not for others

on the surface she could justify these actions….she had been hurt….and some people just couldn’t be trusted!!

but when she heard the words of Jesus….

she imagined Jesus gently speaking to her saying please love your enemies….

please pray for them…..

because I really want you to be my child….reflecting who I am and what I do….

please help others see I am loving and forgiving!!!

Christina then realised something

To be able to live this way… be God’s child

She needed the Holy Spirits help

She needed to be constantly reminded and remember

what God has done for her….

what God is doing for her

and what God will do for her

Christina realised that God’s love and forgiveness for her affects not only her future, but also how she lives today and therefore has the potential to greatly affect other people!!!

Then almost automatically texts like Romans chapter 5 verse 8 popped into her mind….

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The reality is God’s love is a very special, unique type of love

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