Matthew 5:43-48: Growing Up
Yesterday we considered Jesus’ urging that we ask, seek and knock. Today we unpack this simple request to discover what these words really mean. Jesus explains: You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
This lesson in paradox is at the core of Jesus’ message.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
This lesson in love is the most beautiful and transformative of all.
As we struggle to grow in Christ, we know that we must learn this most difficult and most transforming message. And so we remember . . . rather than thinking: “I am misunderstood”, I will think instead, “God is so understanding”.
For more on Detrich Bonhoeffer, German philosopher and theologian who was arrested and executed by the Nazis in 1945, click on the quote above and explore.
Use the scripture link to explore other versions of these verses.