February 27, 2021

The Gospel

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43–48 (LectionaryPage.net)

The Offering

From Zach Price

 

Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you…but who is my enemy and who persecutes me? I remember growing up at various churches and always hearing this preached as love someone even if they are an Auburn/Alabama fan or Republican/Democrat. I never understood why this was so hard. I never really knew what it meant to be persecuted or really hated growing up. I didn’t understand the oppression that people deal with every waking moment – those scared of inescapable violence or having their basic rights and dignity as a human being fought by others to be stripped away in the way first century Christians were under Roman occupation. Maybe I need to think of it not as love Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, not as love that man with the obscene sign yelling and preaching that I am unworthy and going to hell – it should go further.

 

Truly I tell you, love the drug dealers who tear down your community, love the rioters who wish to do you harm, love the police who don’t think your life matters, love the man who you trusted and beat you, love the pedophile who destroyed your life, love the terrorists who took so many lives away from us. Pray for them.

 

Maybe that is the kind of radical love Jesus calls us to. What does it mean to love them? How do we even do that? I don’t have a good answer. The only thing I can point to and say comes from our Baptismal Covenant (emphasis mine):

 

Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

 

I will, with God’s help.

 

Will you strive for justice and peace among ALL people, and respect the dignity of EVERY human being?

 

I will, with God’s help.

A woman stands in front of two male police officers in riot gear during a protest.
Jonathan Bachman/Twitter

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