Originally published on four moms January 23, 2010
Often I think about needing to go somewhere else to really love people like Jesus is calling me to. Somewhere like Africa or Haiti or the inner city. Sometimes this discrepancy between going somewhere else to love like Jesus calls me to and my comfortable life seems so strong, it is as if I am not loving anyone where I am. For when Jesus says (in Matthew 5)
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that 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. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
All of a sudden I feel uncomfortable. Convicted. As if this is something I cannot do right where I am. Usually, I think about loving my neighbours and loving my enemies and it seems easier than what Jesus is talking about. My neighbours, we ‘get along’. We are polite and occasionally help each other out. And like most women my age I can’t really say I have ‘enemies’. People I avoid relationship with, sure, people that rub me the wrong way, of course, people who I just don’t understand – yes, yes and yes. But since I don’t classify these as ‘enemies’ (and since we are not on outright hostile terms) I usually don’t think about how Jesus is asking me to love them. I choose to just be polite when I have to and perhaps occasionally pray for them to have a relationship with Jesus if they don’t.
Then once in a while God shines a light for me – and I see
(and oh how it hurts because it is usually under heart-wrenching circumstances that bring me to weeping on my knees)
but am I feeling convicted because I am failing to love those ‘enemies’ closest to me? Does this have less to do with someone in Africa and everything to do with how ‘being polite’ has absolutely nothing in common with the love Jesus shows me? The love Jesus is talking about in Matthew? The love Jesus bled on the cross? Does it have everything to do with the people God has placed right smack dab in the middle of my life for better or for worse? The ones who might even share some of my DNA? The ones who don’t know Jesus but do know me? The ones I should be constantly begging to God for, but so often don’t. Yes, I think it does.