March 18, 2021

Ben Kiowski
““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
Matthew 5:43-47

When I consider the myriad of avenues by which our following Jesus can differentiate us from the life patterned after the carnality of the winds of culture, this passage certainly cuts through the minutia. The logically simplistic yet practically counterintuitive concept of loving those who are against us—even blessing them—is profoundly relevant in our day to day. Whether facing true persecution or more subtle cultural ostracism, the powerful act of kindness in the face of hatefulness, when rooted in faith, preaches the Gospel more thoroughly than some of our most well intentioned exegesis. Further, when Jesus teaches us to show benevolence to our enemies as a way of differentiating ourselves from the rest of the world, he does so as a foreshadowing of the Cross. As Jesus was being murdered and his executioners were casting lots for his garments (Luke 23:34), Jesus prays for them to be blessed with forgiveness. Is it possible for us to be any more like Jesus than when we choose to follow his example by praying for and blessing those actively against us.