Have you ever thought that ‘evil’ could be described as ‘live’ backwards and in a sense this is right. Jesus shows us there is a special way of overcoming evil and violence. If you like it’s a question of shifting from I-centric (live) to O-centric (love).
His guidance is quite specific:
“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 mistreat you.“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36
This text ranks as one of the most extraordinary ever written! It utterly reverses human thinking about enemies and forgiveness. It spells out the way God goes about things, holding nothing against us despite all our failings. This is how Jesus lived, this is how he died for his executioners. His attitude of heart was blessed by his Father and brought him into eternal life.
Our world can be transformed if we take Jesus seriously. Our task is to collaborate with him and to live on a higher level of loving than we had imagined possible. We are called to go beyond loving our neighbour as ourselves, beyond loving only those who love us, beyond only loving nice people. We are to love our enemies, do good to them, pray for them, wish them well!
If what Jesus asks seems too much for us, we are beginning to understand that our response will depend not on ourselves alone but on a grace that comes from God. Only by receiving the spirit that Jesus promises will we be able to witness to the love, forgiveness and peace to which Jesus calls us.
Perhaps it is not so much that we are asked to imitate God’s compassion as to be a channel for it. We pray that we may be open, transparent and free in letting the image of God in which we are created be seen and experienced.
Heavenly and Almighty Father, help me to be strong when others attack. Instead of responding in anger, remind me to pray for my enemies. To pray for your blessing and peace over them, for their hurting hearts to mend. For evil spills out of a hurting heart, a heart that is distant from you, Lord. Keep me close to you, Lord, and help me only say kind words and pray for your blessings over everyone – even those who speak unkindly to me. Help me to never repay evil with evil, but to always turn from evil and do good. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.