HOW TO DEAL WITH ENEMIES (PART 2)
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for them; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” Luke 6:31 (The Message).
What on earth was Jesus saying? How did this fall on the ears of His hearers? He was demanding a complete transformation in their philosophy of life, a radical paradigm shift from, “What can you do for me?” to “What can I do for you?” It involved disregarding external differences and relating to all people from a new identity and a new disposition.
In the natural world people react or respond according to the attitude or behaviour of “the other person”. If people treat me well, I treat them well. If they misuse me, I misuse them. Jesus said, “No more of that. Live out of who my Father is because you are His sons and you have been given His nature.” To react or respond according to the way people treat us is to mirror people who have never encountered and been transformed by the power of God.
But then He takes another jump forward. This is the tough part. “Take an active step towards those who hate you.” Our human nature requires a return for what we put into someone else, a sort of “tit-for-tat” philosophy. If I actively reach out to someone who dislikes me, I expect some sort of positive response – even if it’s only a “thank you”. Why do I do it? Do I want them to like me?
Jesus never courted the favour of His enemies but He did reach out to them in mercy. If I recognise someone’s need, even if he doesn’t like me, and do something about it just because it’s the right thing to do, that is righteousness. When I do that, something happens on the inside of me. I have a better understanding of my Father’s heart! I am getting to know God.
It is God’s passion that we put His splendour on display. What is that? His capacity to look beyond the flaws and failures of the people He created in His image, and to see their potential to become mirrors of His disposition and active participants in a life of generosity and kindness to everyone, regardless of their responses, because that’s the way He treats us.
This is revolutionary stuff! No other rabbi represented God like this. It was an “in your face” revelation they had to grapple with.