Uncommon Love


            “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun to rise on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mathew 5: 44-48.)


             Many people who were listening had been taught incorrectly.  Jesus is correcting them with the authority given to him when he says, ‘but I say to you.’  They had misunderstood who God was and what His will looked like.  God is in control of the sun and the rain, and all of the miracles of nature that allow men and women to survive from the increase of their harvests.  God also controls true love; unconditional love; we cannot cause the sun to rise, nor the rain to come, but we can love others in the same way God loves them.  The reward doesn’t come from doing what the rest of the world does, but from doing greater things than they do.  The world only knows how to love its own; those who do not know God are only capable of providing a love that is defined by boundaries and limits.  The thinking is, ‘if you love me, then I will love you back, and when you act unloving then I will take back that love I had given you.’  But as children of God, we are rewarded for doing his will, and his will is to love everyone just as he has loved us, and just as he loves them.  Jesus picks out evil doers as an example of how the world loves.  He compares tax collectors to the ‘Sons of God.’  Tax collectors loved those who loved and greeted them, but they were ungodly men, who stole and extorted from the people to gain wealth.  Doing only as they did would only make them blend in with the evildoers around them; and God would not be represented.  Most people are cold toward everyone except those they are familiar with and know and love.  The children of God however cannot love merely those they know and love them.  The perfection of God is seen in loving acts that don’t make sense in this world.  To love the stranger doesn’t make sense.  To love those who hate you, doesn’t make sense.  To give to those who are ungrateful and who don’t do anything in return doesn’t make sense in this world.  To do good acts in secret doesn’t make sense in this world either, because those who don’t know God cannot benefit from this type of action if no one is around to see it and to praise them.  When a person knows God they seek to please him, and they stop striving merely to please those for their own gain, as God is now watching them and they are rewarded when he sees these good deeds.

             Jesus uses the Father/Son illustration because in Jesus we see who God really is.  He is the son of God, because he does exactly what God does.  Therefore, we are commanded to do the same if we desire to be God’s children also.  There is no better illustration to give of how God’s love is manifest than in the final day of the life of Jesus.  He was beaten and spit on, teased and mocked and not once did he return a single blow to those who struck him.  He not once replied in anger to any of the shouts and insults hurled at him.  Not once did he curse those who were cursing him.  Rather, he prayed for them as he hung upon the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not what they do” (Luke 23: 34.)

             Today, this practice of greeting and loving those who are lost, and those who are mockers, and those who profane the name of the Lord, and who devise evil against us is probably the more difficult of all of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  All our lives we have been taught that love has boundaries.  We have been taught that there are socially acceptable ways of interacting with people, and many are afraid of breaking through these boundaries.  Offering to pay from someone’s meal or cup of coffee is one way to love the stranger; but it takes courage.  Most people accept the offer, after wondering somewhat skeptically why you might be doing it.  They, like us, have been trained to be skeptical of love from people they don’t know.  Another way to practice this love is to ask a stranger about themselves and then listen to them as they talk, just as God listens to you and I without interruption.  You can return grocery carts; you can attempt to do something good for that family member you might not get along with; or for the person who has been cold to at your workplace.  You can pray for those who hate you, and who have wronged you, and who have taken something from you.  There is no end to the good that we can do all around us, but we must be willing to overcome the fear of not blending in.  Love that is Godly is not a common love.  As children of God we will be different, but it will be love that makes us different; an abundant love; a love that overflows and touches those around us; a love that is strange to some, but common to God; may we be Son’s of God, and do his will, that ‘we may be perfect, just as our heavenly father is perfect.’

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask you now to give us opportunities to do good to those who hate us, and to love those who have wronged us.  Lord, help us to overcome the fear of being rejected, and the fear of not blending in.  Help us Lord to love just as You love.  Give us Your Heart to love, for without You we cannot love without boundary, and without condition.  Challenge us today, and every day, to strive to be perfect and loving just as You are perfect and loving.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”

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