Summary: Something is missing from the church today, and people are starting to notice. Too often the church fails to offer what it advertises: life.

3. The Greatest Commandment

February 28, 2010

Love your Enemy

Mrs. Jones wanted her fourth grade class to learn some valuable life lessons so one day she gave them an assignment. Each student was instructed to get their parents to tell them a story and they would be expected to find the moral of the story. The next day the kids came back to class and one by one they told their stories. Kathy said: “my dad is a farmer and we have lots of egg laying hens. One time we were going to the market with a basket of eggs in the front seat when the truck hit a bump in the road and all the eggs broke and made a mess.” “So what is the moral of the story asked the teacher?” "Don't put all your eggs in one basket!" "Very good," said Mrs. Jones. "Now, Lucy?" "Our family are farmers too. But we raise chickens for the meat market. We had a dozen eggs one time, but when they hatched we only got ten live chicks. And the moral to this story is, don't count your chickens before they're hatched." "That's a fine story Lucy," she continued. "Johnny, do you have a story to share?" "Yes ma'am, my daddy told me this story about my Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob was a Green Beret in Vietnam and his helicopter got hit. He had to crash land in enemy territory and all he had was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun and a machete. He drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn't break and then he landed right in the middle of 100 enemy troops. He killed seventy with the machine gun until he ran out of bullets, then he killed twenty more with the machete till the blade broke and then kill the last ten with his bare hands." "Good heavens," said the teacher, "What kind of moral do you get from that horrible story?" Little Johnny replied: “Don't mess with Uncle Bob when he's been drinking."

I think most families probably have an Uncle Bob. We certainly all have someone in our lives who can be a challenge to love. So what do we do with people that like that. My mother refers to some people as EGR’s extra grace required because dealing with them tends to demand a lot more patience than most people require. Our goal as a church is to become passionate followers of Jesus and in order to do this we have to learn how to love. Love is what makes us like Jesus. We can learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We can even learn to love our neighbor as ourselves and still be missing something. If you look at Matthew 5:43 we see there is one more group that we are instructed to love. For some of us this will be the most difficult group to love. Jesus is in the beginning of His sermon on the mount and is in the process of revolutionizing the way people look at the world. Over and over again in this sermon we hear Jesus say: you have heard it said; but I tell you. Often times we look at the New Testament as gracious for it does away with the Old Testament and makes the Christian life easier. The problem with that is if you look through the sermon on the mount what you will find is that Jesus increases the demands of the law. You have heard it said: do not commit murder but I tell you don’t even be angry or you are a murderer. You have heard it said do not commit adultery but I tell you if you even look at a woman lustfully you commit adultery in your heart. So guess what guys, we are all adulterers. Ladies, I didn’t forget about you, guess what, you are all adulterers too. Jesus extends the demands of the law making them about more than just the action you take but about the truth that lives in your heart. Now you can’t just avoid doing the wrong things you have to avoid being wrong in the depths of your heart. You have heard it said, but I tell you is exactly how He will begin this text.

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ Mt 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Mt 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Mt 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? Mt 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Mt 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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