Read Luke 6:27-31.
It’s counter-intuitive, maybe even counter-biological! Our lives depend on our fight-or-flight response. Our nature is to defend when we are threatened or hurt. But the Way of Jesus is different: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Is Jesus teaching a sadistic “kill them with kindness” kind of thing? No. It’s about loving God by loving our neighbor as “self” (Lev. 19.18). The original call to love neighbor could be translated: “Love your neighbor ‘as you.’” When we love our neighbors, we exercise our love of God. And to truly love God, we must love our neighbors, including our enemies. We are intricately bound together by the love and creative power of God. Our well-being is very much dependent on the well-being of those around us.
The great Epiphany of Jesus is that he showed us what a life faithful to God’s creative intent looks like: loving God is to love neighbor; loving neighbor is loving God. For me to live in peace, I must actively seek my neighbor’s peace. Have you sought your neighbor’s peace? If so, how? If not, why not? How might God be calling to embody the love of God in your way of life?
Holy God, whose creative power has been infused into creation itself, guide my mind in this new year that I may shed any hate I may have in my heart and that my love for you may become manifest in the loving of those who hate me or those I perceive as enemies. Help me to see not enemies, but fellow children of yours. In the Way of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Eric O. Ledermann
Pastor, University Presbyterian Church (Tempe, AZ)
Campus Minister, UKIRK at Arizona State University