Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Plan of Love

When I was in college, I had a sign on the wall of my dorm room that said, "Love your enemies. It drives them crazy." The Bible says, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you" (Prov. 25:21-22).  Entertaining thoughts, for sure--can't you just imagine your villainous enemy roasting on a spit over those burning coals, while God, Himself, pats you on the back and congratulates you for your acts of humility and self-sacrifice? Delightful! But then . . .

The Lord also tells us to, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect payment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is knd to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:27-36).

Ouch! I'd feel a lot better if those words weren't written in red in my Bible. I mean, if Paul or John had written them, well, maybe they just exaggerated a little or something. But there they are in red, the words of Christ. He calls us to right motivation, to be loving toward others, just as our Father is kind to the ungrateful and wicked--me. He urges us to be more like Him, to treat others as He treated us, to really love those who are created in His image. And don't be fooled--that enemy of yours has worth; and what is his worth?--the life of a God! It is not His will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We will have enemies in this world, but the Bible reminds us that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). So while it is probably true that we won't like everyone, we are commanded to love everyone.

There are two plans made for us in this life. One plan is from God, the other plan is from the devil. I choose God's plan, so I will try to love others as He has loved me. I will fail often, but He will search my heart, and because I give my weaknesses and failures to Him, His plan will overcome.