Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back what was borrowed. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting any repayment. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:34b-36).
We’re living in especially volatile times. To be sure, every generation faces explosive issues and polarization. Mean-spirited rhetoric and fiery outrage are nothing new. Yet clearly the pendulum has swung in the direction of entrenched animosity. Other than shake our heads in despair, what are we to do? More specifically, what are we to do as Christians?
Probably the easiest option is to pick a side. Isn’t this what the roaring and bombastic voices around us are clamoring for us to do? If we’re to be informed and engaged citizens, then surely we must weigh in and lend our voices to the cantankerous chorus of outrage, right? Unless there’s a better way…
Of all the counter-intuitive, upside-down, and other-worldly things the Lord Jesus ever uttered, his teaching on loving our enemies must rank toward the top. “Tolerate our enemies?” Sure, no problem… “Refrain from violence toward our enemies?” Fine, if we must… “Recognize the humanity of our enemies?” I guess so… But to join together the words “love” and “enemy” just seems ridiculous! Nevertheless, Jesus says his followers are to go so far as to show kindness and mercy toward those who hate us.
On what basis? God the Father—the Most High—shows kindness toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Even though human beings refuse to acknowledge God’s existence and sovereign rule, the Lord gives breath and life. Even though human beings fail to give thanks for every good and perfect gift that comes from above, the Lord provides ongoing nourishment for both the just and the unjust. Even though human beings actively rebel against God and spit upon the abundance of his grace and mercy, the Lord sent God the Son to become one of us. Even though human beings crucified their one and only Savior, God continues to hold out the offer of salvation from his righteous judgement. Indeed, God is kind to the wicked.
So, in the midst of today’s pervasive hostility and vitriol, what are we to do? Although we will have our opinions and although we will sometimes need to speak our opinions, we will always strive to ensure our attitudes reflect the kindness of our loving heavenly Father. Take heart, no matter how bad it may seem out there, nothing and no one can ever take our Lord off the throne of grace. Confident of that truth, may we also show kindness to all.