This is the story of a collection of people who follow Jesus. We live in Littleton. We encounter people in the name of Jesus, we allow Jesus to turn us into disciples, we gather often, and we equip people to love and serve other people better.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today's sermon - Love your Enemies

Today I am going to push you.  Actually to be more precise, Jesus is going to push you, as he has pushed me all week.  

He is going to ask you to leave your comfort zone, and to follow him into a new place.  

Today is the pinnacle of the second section of the Sermon on the Mount.  The first section is the beatitudes.  They are beautiful, poetic, encouraging, counter cultural, and if you live them right, you will be persecuted.  The world will hate you, as it hated Jesus.  

Then came the second section of the sermon.  This section has 7 points.  6 of the 7 points begin, "You have heard it said..., but I tell you."  Each time Jesus states an Old testament law that has become obscured by the way it is being applied during the times of Jesus.  Each time Jesus returns the law to its original intent.  He does this by saying, "I tell you..."  And when he says, "I tell you..." he means, your creator is now setting you straight on some things you have misunderstood about the way you are to interact with each other.  

Jesus has corrected the way we see the law, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation and finally, how we treat our enemies.  

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Lets break it down.  

First, the teaching of the day was that it was good and proper not only to love your neighbor (your fellow Jew) but it was good to hate your enemies (anyone who was not a Jew).  We understand the root of this teaching, we find it still today.  The best way to be a Christian is to love the people Jesus loves and hate the people Jesus hates.  Well, we don't say it that way, but we see it lived out this way.  

In brief, the theology goes this way.  

A) Nothing we do saves us, only God can save sinners.  He chose before the beginning of time those who would be saved.  

B) Limited Atonement - since God knew who he would save, it is only necessary for Jesus to die for the sins of those who one day would be saved. 

C) This highlights the fact that there are two groups of people walking the Earth today.  Some will be saved, and some will be damned to Hell.  The first our children of God, and second group is composed of the enemies of God.  

This theology fits nicely with the thinking of the Pharisees at the time.  God loves some, and hates some, so it is ok for us to love some, and hate some.  

To people who believe this, Jesus words are mind boggling.  

In verse 45, Jesus points out that God causes the sun to rise, and the rain to fall on both groups.   In other words, (and to make Jesus' point) God loves them both.  

So immediately we see the cognitive dissonance that is here.  Love our enemies?  How is this possible?

I suggest there are two possibilities.  

1) Detachment.  We either change our behavior towards our enemies, and do loving things, and separate ourselves from our feelings (which will revolt at the idea of doing something nice for someone who has hurt us, or treated us unfairly, or attacked our loved ones).  While this sounds good, I fear it may be the worst possible solution.  We know that attempting to "DO" the sermon on the mount without first acknowledging our inability to do it without God's help, will lead to the same twisted law following that Jesus is speaking out against in this sermon.  

2) In following and surrendering to Jesus, we arrive at a place where we truly LOVE our enemies.  

I take as my example of this Stephen, who when he was being stoned cried out, "Do not hold this sin against them."

There is also an OT example of this in the way God rebukes Jonah for not having compassion for the people on Nineveh.  


I believe it is very difficult to live this passage.  As if to highlight this, Jesus concluded it: be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.  

If we are not the ones to be drawing lines between friends and enemies, the question becomes are there any lines at all?  Do we arrive at a point where the best thing we can do is live and let live.  

I believe there is a line that Jesus wants us to draw.  And the line is here.  Every day we have two options.  We can do what he has asked us to do, or we can do something else.  And we can draw a big fat line between those two.  

What Jesus asks me to do        ||||||||||||||||||         Everything else

And what Jesus asks us to do is to love people.  Love everyone.  Our neighbors.  Our enemies.  

May God give us the wisdom to know how to do this, and the courage to do it.  

Mark Kraakevik

of 8776 West Geddes Place, Littleton, CO 80128
Mark can be reached at 720-308-4051
Mark's blog can be found at

Posted via email from Mark Kraakevik