Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Matthew 5:43-48 and God's Love for His Enemies (Part 5)

46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

As mentioned before, when we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, it demonstrates that we are children of our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father rewards His children for displaying a love like His: a love that goes beyond what is found among those who do not follow Christ. Human society could not function without some sort of love in place-- for people cannot get much accomplished if they are constantly at each others' throats-- but the way that love regularly manifests itself among people who have not been transformed by the Holy Spirit is the kind of love that "even the tax collectors" and "pagans"-- those individuals who everyone in God-fearing society would acknowledge as sinful-- manifest.

"Love those who love you." This is the selfish "love" that comes naturally to the human heart. Why would I love someone who does not love me? What would be the point? If someone does not love me, and I invest myself in loving him or her, then that person will ignore my love. Even worse, if I seek to love someone who does not love me, that person may very well disdain me for seeking to invest in his or her life when he or she has not asked me to do so. Loving those who do not love you-- and greeting those who are not "brothers"-- is often unwelcome and always uncomfortable.

In The Gospel According to Matthew we see Jesus going out of His way to greet those who are not His "brothers:" those who are not in His natural circle of friends. And so we see Him calling Peter and Andrew-- random fishermen-- in Matthew 4 and in Matthew 9 He calls Matthew, one with the most despised profession of "tax collector." At the end of Matthew's Gospel Jesus is shown to be abandoned by His disciples (Matt 26:56) and yet He loves them-- and all His future disciples-- to the point of giving up His life on their [and our] behalf, dying on the Cross for sinners.

As followers of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, we should reflect God's love for His enemies, obeying His commands, first and foremost by speaking the gospel to others: even those who may not love (or even hate) us or our faith. As we seek to proclaim the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners, we will necessarily have to extend ourselves and greet those who are not our brothers: we must lovingly engage people who are outside of the Church and who are outside of our natural circle of friends and relatives.

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