Usually the subject of background checks is included in the hot topic of gun regulation. I am not promoting an opinion in this blog, but it got me thinking, “I’m so glad God doesn’t use background checks to find out who is worthy of His blessings.” If God ran my name through some cosmic database, I highly doubt He’d find me worthy of His love or mercy or grace.
However, people function so differently than God. We are prone to be nice to those who are nice to us and cold to those who have hurt us in some way. I’m glad God doesn’t wait for me to be nice to Him before He’s nice to me. Jesus pointed out that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45). Because this is what God is like, Jesus wants His followers to live a life that reflects the ways of God.
He said, “You have heard that it was 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 you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48)
Here is the radical way of life that Jesus promotes.
- Love your enemies – don’t wish ill upon those who are opposing you
- Bless those who curse you – don’t raise your voice and use mean words to get back at them
- Do good to those who hate you – show kindness to those who openly dislike you
- Pray for those who persecute you – ask God to shower your persecutors with blessings
This kind of response is not natural. Retaliation is more likely. But Jesus wants to do the unexpected through you. He wants to demonstrate grace to others. They may not deserve that kind of response from you, but that’s the whole point of grace. God blesses us in spite of us not deserving to be blessed. Likewise, He wants people to be the recipients of these practical expressions of grace from you and me.
Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything that He hasn’t done Himself. He is the greatest example of love…blessing…doing good…praying for His antagonists, including those who crucified Him. “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). On the cross, nailed there after hours of torture, Jesus prayed for those who mocked Him, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)