Good day to you all, Brethren. For quite some time, I have wanted to write upon one of the most important subjects of all time. This subject lies at the foundation of Christianity, being not only the summation of the way in which the Children of God must walk, not only the breath and life of believers, but it is also the foundational element of God and the great gravity which binds together the Holy Trinity. Love is the basis of all that God does, has done, and will do. Therefore, we can rightly say that love is not merely a description of God, but rather that God is love (1 John 4:7-8).
This reality is arguably the most important reality for us to grasp, and a full discussion of love would last for an eternity, since our God is eternal and unfathomable. However, in this post, I wish to discuss a specific aspect of love, one which is beyond us: love of our enemies.
Out of all types of love, this is probably the most difficult of all. Honestly, it is difficult to love someone who is always attempting to put you down or undermine your faith, or even kill you for believing Christ and obeying Him. It is difficult (to say the least) to do good to those who do evil to you (Romans 12:17-21, cf. 1 Peter 3:8-12). Nevertheless, it is commanded.
So, if we are to understand how we are to treat our enemies, the first question we must ask is: what is love?
Well, I can tell you that love is not a wonderful fluttering in one's heart over, or an infatuation with, someone, although those can be outward signs of love under certain circumstances. How do I know this? God, who is in a very real sense the essence of love itself, does not love in this manner.
"God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate." (Psalm 7:11-16)
Now, one may look at this passage and say that it shows a god of hate, not love. However, we in the modern church have been emphasizing the word love for so long that it has actually lost its original meaning and power. God is not giddy over sinners (or even us who are saved), nor is He romantically in love with anyone (the Song of Solomon was not a picture of the love Christ has for His Church, quite frankly that idea is absolutely revolting and blasphemous on so many levels). Nevertheless, God does love all men, even those whom He has righteously decreed to be created as hell-bound vessels of wrath.
How is it that theLord still loves those whom He is sharpening His sword against to slay? How is it possible to be absolutely furious with those who refuse to repent (Psalm 2:4-6), so furious that you command your Son to dash them to pieces with an iron rod (Psalm 2:9) and ultimately cast them into untold, eternal torment and yet love them? Honestly, I do not know. I firmly believe that this is a reality too deep for mortal man to understand, but it is true nonetheless.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Now, does love always bring peace? No, for Christ came to bring a sword, not peace (Matthew 10:34-36), and our love will inevitably stir up hatred, even possibly amongst those closest to us. This is not because we are unloving, rather our patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control, etc., is of the Spirit, and God is light. As I have said before, men love darkness and hate light (John 3:19-21), and therefore will hate our love. Moreover, they will really hate the message which we lovingly preach (Eph. 4:15), which is Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 1:23), and this reveals their sins, which is something they fear (John 3:20). Therefore, it is the very love we have for them and the message it compels us to preach that will both draw some and repel others. As wise men have said, love hurts.
God’s love for all men is the type of love described in 1 Cor. 13. Look throughout the Bible (especially in the life of Christ), and we see God’s patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, lack of swift provocation, forgiveness and passing over the times of ignorance, not retaliating against those who spat on Him, hatred and sadness over evil but joy over truth, bearing all things, full of hope, and enduring even the worst of trials unscathed. Overall, His love never failed, and never will fail. What love is this!