Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sermon for 2/23/14 Love Your Enemies Matthew 5

Common question - who is my neighbor?
What about “who is my friend?”
Who is my enemy?”

Sometimes it isn’t that easy to tell our friends from our enemies.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to tell if we are a friend or foe.
 How badly do I want my way?
 What kind of sin will I enter into in order to get it?
 What kind of sin will I enter into if I don’t get it?
    physical harm

Let’s make it more concrete.
Last Saturday night, a number of militant Islamists rounded up about a hundred known Christians in a town in Nigeria. They forced them into the town square and executed all who didn’t manage to run away. They then tried to find anyone they had missed.

Those people were enemies. It was clear.

In Matthew 5:44, those are the people the Christians are commanded to love and to pray for. Jesus uses the word “persecute.” He uses the word for being attacked for your Christian faith in such a way that you die.

We’re pushed toward care for those who would hate us, who would despise us, who are willing to sin against us to get what they want, even if that sin against us causes our death.

Heavy words.

What is the unbeliever’s attitude toward God?
 don’t care about his commands
 don’t care about his values
 think he might be some sort of a hoax
 don’t treat him like a real person
 eventually despise and reject him
How has God loved us?
 While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
 Christ, the just, suffered for us, the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).
Why would he do that?
 to bring us to God 1 Peter 3:18
 so that we might not perish John 3:16
God loves us even when we don’t love him, even when we wish he was dead, even when with our attitudes we try to kill God.
 ignoring his Word
 trusting in ourselves, our possessions, other people and things

But he loves us.
 Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father praying for us (Romans 8:34).
Even though we were just the kind of people who would pursue him to death, he gave his life for us.

In Jesus we find forgiveness.
In Jesus we find life.
In Jesus we find hope.

The Lord has given his life so as to forgive us our sins. As we pray that he will forgive our sins we also receive the power, as his children, to live that life of forgiveness, giving hope to those around us.

Who do you know that is in need of the grace of God?
Who is your enemy?
Who is God’s enemy?
How do we confront those people?
 concrete and tangible
 abstract and intangible
 proclaiming the Gospel
    Jesus loved you and came so as to present you to God, forgiven.
    Jesus loves you and has given his word and his people, the Church, to show his love for you.
    Jesus  loves you and can use you as his instrument to love the world.

Maybe you’re God’s enemy?
What’s the Gospel message for you?
 forgiveness, grace, life, salvation, now and forever
 Come, believe, receive, and live.

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