Daily reading: 7 March
Love your enemies.
The daily readings throughout Lent 2020 are taken from the Christian Aid Ireland footprints journey.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
- Matthew 5:44.
'Love your enemies'
'Pray for those who persecute you'
These words roll off the tongue with ease, however, when we stop and think about these commands from Jesus we are struck by just how impossible they are for us mere mortals to obey.
These radical sayings of Jesus come at the end of six radical sayings that Jesus shared about the application of the law within the context of the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus was sharing what life should be like in the Kingdom of God.
Christian author Barbara J Essex writes about this passage:
'With the words of this text, Jesus seeks neither to set impossible goals nor to shame people who cannot reach perfection. Instead, he sets forth God's vision of God's world, where love, genuine and unconditional, reigns.'
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he continually demonstrated this genuine, unconditional love. The woman at the well, Zacchaeus and, Mary Magdalene are some of the people who experienced genuine, unconditional love from Jesus. In reading their encounters with Jesus, we see the transformative power of unconditional love. These were all people who had not experienced love from their neighbours due to their actions and lifestyles. They were shunned by society and by the religious community. However, after their encounters with Jesus, after receiving his unconditional love, their lives were completely transformed.
As Christians, we are called to love others as Christ has loved us. None of us are perfect, all of us have done wrong, yet all of us have received the unconditional love of God and been transformed by it. May we, through our lives and actions, seek to offer this transformational love to everyone we encounter, whether they are our loved ones, our neighbours, even our enemies. Let us pray for those who persecute us and allow God to transform their lives as he transformed ours with genuine, unconditional love.
You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.
Today's contributor is the Rev Paul Maxwell. Paul is husband to Nicola and father of two children aged nine and six. He is the Methodist minister of the Carlow and Kilkenny Circuit in Ireland. He is also a Director of Carlow Women’s Aid, a member of the Methodist Church in Ireland’s Council for Social Responsibility and Methodist World Development and Relief.
Published on 07 March 2020