Updated: Mar 23, 2019
Jesus stunned His audience by saying, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
What if Jesus was speaking to an audience of adults with divorced parents? Maybe He would have said something like this: Because of your hurt from your parents’ divorce, you love those who love you and hate those who’ve hurt you. But I say to you,
Love your mother who left the family for a coworker, Bless the woman that “stole” your father from your family, Do good to the stepparent who never treated you as one of the family, Pray for the judge that put you with Dad when you wanted to be with Mom, Do this that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Love them? You don’t understand!! I’ve heard of enough stories and talked to enough frustrated, hurt, disillusioned, and apathetic-toward-their-family adult children of divorce to understand this sentiment. Also, as one with divorced parents, I, too, have periodic struggles. But Jesus was speaking to an audience whose “enemy” was the Roman government. One that abused people, killed them at will, and regularly took advantage of them. A few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and raising from the dead, Romans were literally feeding Christ-followers to the lions to be killed. So, Jesus’ audience would also say, “Love them? You don’t understand!!”
Love covers a multitude of sins We are often unlovable, yet God loves us. God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). With so great a love available to you and me, how can we hold back our love from those who wounded us? Here are some beginning steps.
1. Accept the love and forgiveness God offers you through the sacrificial death of Jesus for your sins. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-10,13). Click here for more information on this wonderful gift.
2. Forgive your ‘enemies’ for their offenses against you. Easier said than done? Listen to a radio program I recorded on forgiveness when dealing with divorced parents on our media page.
3. Enjoy the freedom, peace, and joy that comes with obedience to God’s word.
Loving as Jesus commanded may not change your ‘enemy’, but it will certainly change you!