Summary: A new understanding of enemies and our response to them must be attained by Christ-followers
“Your Enemies Need You!”
A truck driver was sitting in a crowded roadside diner ready to eat his lunch. It wasn’t just any diner and any lunch. It was his favorite diner on the road and his favorite lunch. Just as the waitress brought the truck driver’s meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans to his table, a motorcycle gang swaggered in the door. Most of them sat themselves at the table next to the truck driver but there wasn’t enough room at that table for all of them. The gang members left standing turn to the truck driver and barked, “Move! We want that table!” The truck driver calmly said, “I haven’t finished my meal.” One of the motorcycle toughs took his dirty finger, swiped it through the mashed potatoes and gravy, stuck his finger in his mouth and said, “Hey, not bad grub.” Another gang member took the trucker’s cup of coffee and slowly poured it over the remaining food on the plate and snarled, “You’re finished now!” The trucker stood up, took his napkin, wiped his mouth, walked to the cash register, paid for his meal, and silently walked out the door. All the bikers started laughing and one of them made a comment to the waitress: “Ain’t much of a man, is he?” The waitress simply replied “And he’s not much of a truck driver, either. He just backed his rig over your motorcycles.”
If you and I are honest, most of us would have to say that when it comes to dealing with those who oppose us or those that we just don’t like, we’re more likely to identify with the truck driver than with the person trying to build bridges to them. If you’re here for the first time today, we’ve been in a sermon series based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, called “Perspectives” where we’ve discovered that if we really want to act like, walk like, talk like, and be like Jesus, we’ve got to gain His perspective on what it means to be a Christ follower. This has not been an easy series because we’ve taken on some very difficult issues such as rage, adultery, divorce, deceit, and revenge--and we’ve discovered that Jesus has a radically different view and expectation of those who follow Him on how to live life well. This morning we close the series by addressing perhaps the most difficult of Jesus’ teaching…to love our enemies. If you have your Bibles with you this morning, please turn to Matthew 5:43-48.
43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your •brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. - Matthew 5:43-48- HCSB (SLIDE)
I. Love everyone unconditionally vv. 43-44 (SLIDE)
• Love you neighbor and your enemy!”
• “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.”-Leviticus 19:18- HCSB (SLIDE)
• Loving an enemy means choosing to let our love OVERRIDE our feelings of disgust, anger, bitterness, disdain, ….
• Not all forms of love are the same. Jesus calls us to agape love-the kind of love that actively seeks the other person’s highest good (SLIDE)
• Agape love means to show unconditional kindness. It means going out of your way to show mercy and friendship even to the people who drive you bananas. Even to the people who don’t treat you well.
• “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His •One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”- John 3:16- HCSB (SLIDE)
• If God loves them, why can’t we?
II. Lift up everyone prayerfully v. 44 (SLIDE)
• Pray for enemies?
• “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.- Luke 6:27-28- HCSB (SLIDE)
• If someone is giving you a hard time, maybe that’s God’s way of saying "I want you to pray for this person. You can pray that God will help them to do well at school. You can pray that they’ll get along better with their parents. And most of all, pray that through your life, they will see the unconditional love of God in action. Pray that they will experience ultimate joy in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus says "Love your enemies and PRAY for those who persecute you."