I don’t have to look far to find someone who is frustrated, disillusioned, annoyed, or downright angry in our current social and political climate. People are losing friends over Facebook, losing respect for peers over their party affiliation, and losing hope for the future of our country.
This is perhaps even more emphasized on a college campus, where ideas and opinions are supposed to be allowed, listened to, and respected. Tension is high and patience is at an all time low. Maybe as a campus minister or student leader you have felt overwhelmed and at a loss. What can we do? How do we deal with opposing views in our own leadership team and group? How do we lead students in peace?
I know I certainly don’t have the answers, but thankfully we serve a God who does. I have been drawn to the verses in Luke 6. In this part of scripture, Jesus is teaching to the multitudes. In this crowd were his twelve disciples, as well as people who had traveled miles and miles to hear what Jesus had to say. Jesus had just finished going through the beatitudes(giving hope to those who are poor, hungry, and hurting) and the woes (warning those who are rich, prideful, and ungrateful) when He makes a pretty radical statement.
“But I say to you who hear. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28
In our current context, I couldn’t help but feel the good, but powerful, sting of his words. Jesus calls us to something greater. He shows us how to deal. I wanted to break apart this verse and make it real for us today.
Jesus calls us to love our enemies. The word Jesus used for “enemies” in Greek means hateful and hostile adversary or foe. I have seen and heard so many hurting people lash out with very hateful and hostile comments and remarks. In the moment, it may feel good to have the last word, but that is not the way of love. In 1 Corinthians 13 we get a biblical definition. Love is patient and kind. When someone is pushing your buttons, are you quick to listen and proceed with kindness? Love is not arrogant or rude. The next time you want to shove facts and statistics in someone’s face, remember that Jesus calls you to be humble and polite. Love also does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful. Very interesting. Are you willing to lay aside the fact that you might be “right” to show someone that you really care? These things are obviously challenging, but we are able because Christ enables us.
Do Good & Bless
I know, pretty crazy. Sometimes it is hard enough to look someone in the eye who has said something hurtful, let alone go out of your way to do good for them and bless them! Jesus gives us this standard because He is wise. His heart for us is to love Him and love others. When we are confident that God sees our hurt and the injustice, we can have peace and walk in freedom because He is ultimately the judge.
God wants us to have His heart for the people around us, especially those who hurt us. When someone takes a position that seems in opposition to everything you are or posts a video hating on what you believe, Jesus wants to come in and change your perspective. When you can see that person as an individual just like you with hopes, fears, and dreams, I pray your heart softens. When you compliment and encourage your enemy it is very disarming and unexpected. Often (but not always), this opens up the way for genuine communication and relationship. Then it is no longer about what you can prove, but instead about how well you can love them despite the differences.
This is probably one of the most powerful of the four and the last mentioned. We know from Ephesians 6:12 that our “battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The person who is opposing you isn’t really your enemy at all. The beautiful thing about prayer is that God uses it two-fold. Not only are our prayers powerful and effective to change things in the world, but they are equally as effective at changing us. When we get serious about asking God for his guidance, help and love for the unlovable people in our life, we are radically changed from the inside out. It is in prayer that Jesus reveals more of who He is to us and shows us how to walk in peace despite the chaos around us.
I hope that this encourages you. Read Luke 6:27-36 and reflect on Jesus and His intentions when He shared this with the crowd. You are God’s strategy of hope to this weary world. Love well.