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Sermon Title: The Radical Love of God: Loving Our Enemies.

Introduction:

Good morning, church. Today, we will talk about something truly radical that challenges even the best of us: the command to love our enemies. Imagine, just for a moment, someone who has wronged you. Maybe it was a harsh word, a betrayal, or a deep hurt. Now, picture yourself responding not with anger or avoidance but with love. It isn't easy. Yet, that's precisely what Jesus asks of us.


Reading: Matthew 5:43-48

Verse 43: Expanding Love Beyond Boundaries

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'" Jesus begins by addressing a common belief held by many at the time—a distortion of God's law. The law instructed us to love our neighbor, but nowhere did it advocate hatred toward enemies. This cultural misinterpretation is what Jesus challenges.


How often do we justify disdain or hatred toward those who oppose us in our lives? Jesus calls us to question our cultural biases and expand our understanding of love.


Verse 44: Love and Pray

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Here, Jesus isn't merely suggesting a passive avoidance of hatred; he's prescribing an active love. This love, ἀγαπάω (agapao), is selfless and moral, not based on feelings but on choice—a decision to seek the best for others regardless of their actions toward us.


How powerful it is, then, that Jesus couples this command with the act of prayer! Praying for those who persecute us shifts our perspective, softens our hearts, and seeds reconciliation. Can we commit today to pray for one person with whom we struggle?


Verse 45: Reflecting the Father's Heart

"So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust." Our identity as children of God is tied not just to our beliefs but to our behavior. Loving our enemies reflects God's indiscriminate kindness and marks us as truly belonging to Him.


Let us reflect on this heart of our Father. How can we show this impartial love? Perhaps it starts within our community, extending a hand to those who can give back and those from whom we expect nothing in return.


Verses 46-47: Beyond Common Love

"If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" Jesus challenges us to exceed the ordinary. It's easy to love those who love us. The test of our faith and love is how we treat those who are hard to love.


As a church, let's be known for our extraordinary love. Let's look for ways to reach out, forgive, and embrace those from whom we've been estranged.


Verse 48: The Call to Maturity

"You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." This perfection, τέλειος (teleios), is about maturity and completeness in our moral and spiritual life. It's about striving toward the complete character of God—especially in how we love.


Let's commit to growing toward this maturity. It doesn't happen overnight, but each step in love brings us closer to God's heart.


Conclusion:

In closing, loving our enemies is perhaps one of Jesus's most burdensome commands, but it is not without purpose. It transforms us, challenges the world's norms, and broadcasts the radical nature of God's love.


Let us go from here with a commitment to see our enemies through the eyes of Jesus—to love them, pray for them, and bless them. May God give us the strength to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, mature in love, and rich in mercy.


Prayer:

Father, empower us through Your Holy Spirit to embody this radical love. We pray for those we've labeled as enemies, asking not just for Your blessings upon them but also for a transformation in our hearts so that we might truly be Your children, reflecting Your love in all we do.


In Jesus' name,


Amen.


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