While bicycle riding last week I came across this painted on the bike path along Battle Creek just up from Highway 61. It is a beautiful area that I like to refer to as “Battle Creek Canyon”.
This immediately made Jesus’ teaching on loving our enemies come to mind and how revolutionary and hard that teaching is. It just seems to get stuck in our craw and we have trouble envisioning actually loving those we do not like or get along with.
“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Lk 6:27-28
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” Mt 5:44
This teaching on loving our enemies comes towards the end of Jesus’ sermon on the mount in which he turns our worldly thinking upside down and tries to align it with the mind and heart of God.
More often I am more like the Psalmist in wanting to see God punish my enemies.
“Though they curse, may you bless; arise, shame them, that your servant may rejoice.” Ps 109:28
But we are called by Jesus to do good, bless, and pray for those who we would consider advisories or enemies.
When our children where in their teenage years they were filled with that thirst for justice and change that seems to come quite naturally to those in their teens and twenties. They would talk about how messed up things were in our country and how unjust it all seemed to be. There was even talk of moving to another country when they grew up (none of them have moved but they all seem to still be desiring a more just world). I would listen and then tell them that if they wanted to make a change for a more just world and be counter-cultural to live the Gospel teachings of Jesus. To me, nothing is more revolutionary and there is no more powerful vehicle for making the world a more fair and just place than to fully follow the radical teachings of Jesus. Especially the teaching to Love everybody, including our enemies.
For those that listen to KTIS (98.5 FM), you may have heard the wonderful song by Josh Wilson, Revolutionary. As I listen to the lyrics of this song it seems to be a message that is needed for our times of turmoil and division.
Maybe you're not like me Maybe we don't agree Maybe that doesn't mean We gotta be enemies
Maybe we just get brave Take a big leap of faith Call a truce so me and you Can find a better way
Why does kindness seem revolutionary When did we let hate get so ordinary Let's turn it around, flip the script Judge slow, love quick God help us get revolutionary
What would Jesus do He would love first He would love first So we should love first
If you have not heard this wonderful song for our times, here is a link to it on YouTube.
Let us all take some time to pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with Jesus’ revolutionary heart of love and keep us from becoming complacent to how a life lived in the light of the Gospel message can be a radical vehicle for change. Maybe a first step can be to pray for the well being and health of those we do not agree with and care for. When we pray for our enemies our own heart and being is transformed more and more to the heart and being of Jesus.
God help us get revolutionary!
Peace, blessings, prayers