Summary: Loving my enemy is a way to show I belong to God.
May 27, 2001
Relationships in the Kingdom – Part 6
Before the reunification of Germany, each of Uwe Holmer’s eight children tried to enroll at the University of East Berlin, and each one was rejected. The East German Ministry of Education wasn’t in the habit of giving reasons for its rejection of applicants, but in this case the reason wasn’t hard to guess. You see, Uwe Holmer, the father of those eight applicants was the pastor of a church in East Berlin. And for 26 years the Ministry of Education had been headed by Margot Honecker, wife of Erich Honecker, East Germany’s Communist premier.
But then in the fall of 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. The same wall Erich Honecker had been in charge of building in 1961. Honecker and his wife were unceremoniously dismissed from office, and indicted for several criminal activities during his tenure as premier.
They were speedily evicted from their luxurious palace in the exclusive suburb of Vandlitz which was reserved the VIPs of the Communist party. Suddenly they found themselves friendless, without resources and no place to go. None of their former comrades showed them any of the humanitarianism their party had boasted about. No one wanted to identify with the Honeckers…
Except, Pastor Uwe Holmer. Despite the unfair treatment his family had received because of their Christian faith, Pastor Holmer extended an invitation to the Honeckers to stay with his family in the church parsonage.
Having nowhere else to go, the Honeckers accepted the invitation before eventually moving to the Chile. Though Mr. and Mrs. Honecker were outspoken atheists, Pastor Holmer reported the former premier and his wife were folding their hands and bowing their heads at the Holmer family prayer times.
That is not a natural course of action. Most people who had been wronged by the Honeckers and caused to suffer under their Communist dictates would probably rather have seen the former premier and his wife die in the streets. But to invite these enemies into your home? To show them love and compassion? That’s a pretty radical thing to do.
But Jesus tells us…
Loving my enemy is a way to show I belong to God.
TRANSITION: To really show we belong to God, to truly give evidence He’s changing our lives, Jesus would want each of us to realize, for starters…
I. I MUST LOVE INSTEAD OF HATE (v. 43-44)
He tells the crowd on the mountainside in Matthew 5:43…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
Sounds like decent advice, doesn’t it? Trouble is the Bible never says such a thing.
The command “Love your neighbor” is found in Levitcus 19:18, but no OT Scripture says “hate your enemy.”
Those in Jesus’ day defined a “neighbor” as somoeone of my own people – in other words one of your same class or ethnic background. So, they figured, if the rule says love people like me…it must be taken as a permission, even an injunction, to then hate my enemy.
I suppose this rationalization could convince those who wanted to be convinced, but it’s certainly not what God intended. In fact Proverbs 25:21 says, If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty give him water to drink…and the Lord will reward you.