Midweek Message

Lenten Reflections

Allison Tanner

March 15, 2019

Reflections on Matthew 5:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45

The first step in loving my enemies is to pray for them. This prayer will possibly, or even probably, not cause them to change it but will change me. Prayer will move me beyond enmity to a calmer, more thoughtful place where I can deal more effectively with any problems my enemy causes. (Pat Hughes)

It’s raining this afternoon as I reflect on the Lenten Scripture, Matthew 5:45 “. . . he sends the rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”Yes, everyonewill receive blessings of verdant parks and full reservoirs, whether or not they obey civil laws, are adequately housed, enjoy full employment, reside within my zip code, are in my political, socioeconomic, age, gender, racial, religious, educational, or other identifying group.

Jesus instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Why then, is it soeasy to love those who love us back and sodifficult to love those we would rather not know? Indifference? Apathy? Assets? Or is it because loving everyone–showing compassion, giving time, talent and treasure without seeking or expecting anything in return–is hard work?

Behavioral scientists have demonstrated that positive interpersonal interactions are critical for human survival. Far too late in life, individuals often realize they have neither freely given nor accepted love, forgiven others or been forgiven, and consequently missed many of God’s blessings. 

As we seek the Lord’s grace and reflect on His teachings, I am reminded that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Offering unconditional love is aspirational, and, a special gift. (Alean Saunders-Coffey)