Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute–no execptions

Jesus said to his disciples:

“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.

To the person who strikes you on one cheek,

offer the other one as well,

and from the person who takes your cloak,

do not withhold even your tunic.

Give to everyone who asks of you,

and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

For if you love those who love you,

what credit is that to you?

Even sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who do good to you,

what credit is that to you?

Even sinners do the same.

If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,

what credit is that to you?

Even sinners lend to sinners,

and get back the same amount.

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,

and lend expecting nothing back;

then your reward will be great

and you will be children of the Most High,

for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. (Luke 6)

Today’s readings are very applicable to what is happening here and now. Christianity is very much about our lived experience. I will pick out two: the political campaign and the situation in Libya and say that Jesus’ teaching in Luke is not to be waived. In culture, Christians have always been called and challenged to stand over against the prevailing culture. For example, see Paul’s prohibition against eating food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians.

My point number one is that “love your enemies” applies even in the heat of an election that raises serious issues about values.

Second, “love your enemies” also applies to our reaction to the assassination of Foreign Service officers in Libya. There is no excuse nor justification for this egregious and unconscionable act. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The Libyan people are apologizing for what a few misguided extremists did. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” applies. The vitriol I have seen in the press and on blogs has no place in Christian parlance. Muslims are not barbarians as one blogger asserted. Blowing Muslims into oblivion is not an option.

We are no better than nonbelievers if we love only those who love us. This is another of Jesus’s hard teachings but, like Peter,  to whom else shall we go? These are the words of eternal life lived now.

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