We all have people we enjoy spending time with. We all have people we are comfortable being around. Then there are the folks that don’t sit well with us, the people that we really don’t care to be around. What do we do with them? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We have those folks we love to hang out with, spend our life with, vacation with, and include in every adventure, they are people we want to experience things with. There are people we want to go through life with. That was the biggest challenge of the last few years, we couldn’t be together. Life is meant to be lived together. We want to be around folks that we enjoy being around.
We all have certain folks we feel we can trust. When you need some advice or you need to talk it over with someone, you go to someone you like. You don’t go to the people that don’t treat you right or the folks that you don’t care for. You seek out someone you feel you can trust, someone who will welcome you and make the effort to help.
This helps explain why we don’t think too highly of our enemies. We would rather see something bad happen to them. We would like to see them get what they deserve. What goes around comes around; it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. We like it when our enemies have misfortune.
The problem with that is, that is not the way Christ expects us to act. He expects more from us, more than we sometimes are willing to give. Take a look at this passage and see if we start to understand what Jesus is talking about.
Matthew 5:43-48; “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 sons 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 brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
You see we are called to be different. We are called to love not only those we like, but those we don’t care for. You might ask, why? The answer is simple, God values each person the same. Our performance doesn’t affect our value to God. Regardless of what we say and do, God desires to have a relationship with each of us. He desires to be right alongside us through the experiences of life.
While our performance doesn’t put God off, our usefulness to Him is hampered if we don’t see things the same way He does. That is why Jesus took the time to help us understand God’s viewpoint.
What sets Christians apart from the rest of creation is that we care about our enemies as much as we do our friends; or we should. To do this requires that we look past their shortcomings, forgive them when they need to be and reach out to them when they need help. Not easy things for us to do, but they are the things that Christ expects from us. They are the things that lead us to a rich and satisfying life.
What needs to be changed in our lives to allow us to reach out to those we don’t see eye to eye with? What do we need to do to show the love of Christ to those we do not really care for? The answer is different for each of us. We need to take a look at our life, the people close to us and the people you don’t care for, asking ourselves the tough question of why.
Now let’s be clear, we are not trying to make camping buddies of our enemies, but we are trying to eliminate the hatred, discord, jealousy, contempt and disdain. Maybe the key is to go to God and ask for His help. Ask Him to help you see things from a different perspective, to try to change the way you view them.
Having respect and value for others doesn’t mean we are going to invite them home. It means when we see them or think of them, we see someone who is valuable to God. We don’t harbor animosity toward them. We lift them up. Remember that God values each one of us the same and Christ died for each of us.
Perfection is a high standard but it is one that God expects us to strive for. We need to make the effort, one relationship at a time. Don’t start with the difficult ones, start with the one that involves a misunderstanding or a different view of things. The goal is to be able to be different but not enemies. Make an effort this week to reach out to someone who you don’t care for. Let them see that Christ rules in your life. Set aside your personal feelings and see if there isn’t something you can say that lets them know they are valuable to God.
Next week we will close out our Winter Bible Study. I know it is springtime already, but I think the extra time was worth it. Take a moment and review the lessons we have studied and see what the Lord is saying to you.