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What can save our world

January 15, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Matthew 5:43-45, Luke 6:27-28

Matthew 5
43 “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45 so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Luke 6
27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

From a transcript of Dr. King’s Nov. 17, 1957 sermon “Loving Your Enemies” (Nov. 17, 1957): “Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.” *

As today’s Scripture readings show, Jesus called for a radical love that transcends the boundaries of our own communities and relationships. It’s a love that extends to those who have wronged us, challenging the “us vs. them” mentality that so easily and often divides people. In his sermon, Dr. King reminded his hearers that it’s not about condoning evil, but about defeating it with a more powerful force: love.

  • How do Jesus’ words in Matthew (and Dr. King’s words about what Jesus taught) inspire you to embrace Jesus’ radical form of love that reaches beyond your personal comfort? In today’s polarized society, how can you actively use love to dismantle the “us vs. them” mentality and build bridges, even with personal or social “enemies”? Dr. King said Jesus was not a “utopian dreamer.” Can love for enemies help create accountability and justice to remedy long-standing injustices?
  • Jesus said loving enemies makes us more like God, who “makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” What kind of growth in character and maturity does it take to love your enemies? Did Jesus mainly mean altering your emotions to feel more affectionate toward enemies, or altering your behavior to act for their good? How can you become more like God in your willingness to act for the good of all?
Prayer

God, grant me the strength to embody radical love, trusting that love is a powerful force against division and evil. Guide me to actively seek to build bridges, challenge personal prejudices, and confront injustices with a living faith that transforms my heart. Amen

GPS Insights

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves as a Worship Experience Specialist at The Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

The call to love our neighbors is familiar, yet it holds a depth that’s somewhat jarring when we consider loving our enemies. We readily show affection for those who reciprocate, whose smiles and agreements reflect a comfortable image of ourselves. But to extend that love to those who may have hurt us, challenged us, or even stood in direct opposition? That’s where the real test lies, a test that demands a radical shift in how we view the world and our place in it.

Avoiding conflict feels instinctive, a natural desire to shield ourselves from uncomfortable encounters. But as I’ve learned, avoidance rarely makes the problem disappear. Instead, it becomes a seed, buried deep within, that silently grows into resentment and, unchecked, even hatred.

I remember a time in a small group where a fellow member’s words often felt like barbs aimed at me. My comments were met with skepticism, sometimes outright disapproval, leaving me feeling belittled and misunderstood. The discomfort grew, pushing me to withdraw from conversations, hoping to escape the sting of her remarks. This withdrawal only made things worse, breeding resentment not only toward her but also toward the group leaders who, in my eyes, weren’t adequately addressing the situation.

One day I confided in a trusted friend, and was confronted with a truth that pierced through my self-constructed walls: what if the way forward wasn’t avoidance, but something far more radical–loving my “enemy”? This wasn’t about changing her; it was about transforming me. It was about recognizing that her criticisms, however hurtful, might be more about her own struggles than any actual flaw in myself.

Embracing this radical love, though challenging, felt like a weight lifted. My perspective shifted. I began to see her words not as personal attacks, but as the echoes of her own unresolved issues. This didn’t excuse her behavior, but it allowed me to release the resentment, fear, and hatred that had taken root in my heart. Loving her, in this strange and unexpected way, set me free. It deepened my relationship with God, showing me a path to loving others even when it’s difficult, messy, and seemingly undeserved.

Loving our enemies isn’t about becoming doormats or condoning harmful behavior. It’s about understanding that beneath the surface, we all grapple with our own struggles, insecurities, and fears. It’s about extending compassion, not because others deserve it, but because extending it sets us free from the shackles of hatred and resentment. It’s about choosing a path of radical love, one that ultimately transforms not just others, but ourselves.

This journey of radical love isn’t always easy. It requires a constant, conscious effort to see beyond the surface, to practice empathy, and to choose understanding over judgment. But within this difficult practice lies a profound truth: when we choose to love our enemies, we choose to step beyond the limitations of our own egos and embrace the full potential of our humanity.

So, let’s challenge ourselves, to love not just our neighbors, but to extend that love, in all its radical beauty, to those who might seem like our enemies. In doing so, we pave the way for a world where understanding overcomes division, and compassion lights the path toward true and lasting peace.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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