Friends and Enemies

by DanWolgemuth on July 28, 2006

I love my friends.

In fact, last weekend I spent time with some of my closest and most faithful friends… many of whom are family as well.  These individuals are loyal, wise, and trusted.  They know my weaknesses and strengths.  They know how to pick me up when I’m down, and how to celebrate with me as well.  It is a treasure to have them as a part of my life.

As Jesus approached the halfway point in His most profound sermon, He started to drastically up the stakes for those who desired to follow Him.  In doing so He called His followers to distinguish themselves in powerful and provocative ways.

One portion on that discourse focused on those that I love… you know, the very people that I was just describing.  Jesus doesn’t discount or discourage my love for these important people in my life; He simply puts this love in context.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” ~ Matthew 5:46 (ESV)

Real love, Jesus style love, expands the breadth of love. It understands that embracing and being embraced by those that I find easily lovable is only the preface to a landmark classic on love.

So Jesus does what Jesus alone can do… He raises the bar to levels only achievable when He is firmly in the mix. His admonition goes like this:

“…I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44

And He delivered this word, just moments after He had sucked the life out of the human tendency to retaliate.

“Turn the other cheek”…“and your cloak as well”…“and go with him two miles.”

And so Jesus does it again. He sets a standard that defies the inclination of my soul, and in doing so He proclaims…

“with me, all things are possible.”

The life of Jesus reflected and resolved the disconnects of our human nature with our divine appointments… Jesus did it, and He instructed us to follow His lead.

And so we pray for, sacrifice for, work for, weep over, laugh with… our enemies, and when we do, we show the world what Jesus was all about.

Together… for eternity.

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