Love turns enemies into friends

Tragically, hate is a characteristic of our modern world. Hate is an intense negative emotional response towards certain people, things, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with intense feelings of anger and contempt. Hate is ugly and is the opposite of love which is beautiful. Some examples of hate are: hate speech, hateful social media messages, hatred between religions and sometimes within a religion, hate between nations leading to war and the destruction of people and property, genocide involving the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group, as seen in the holocaust. Hate is a sin against God.

Jesus experienced hate, mainly from religious leaders. He had given them no reason to hate him except that he exposed and challenged their hypocritical religion. One sabbath day he was in a synagogue and healed a man with a shrivelled hand. The religious leaders witnessed this and were offended because Jesus had broken one of their man-made rules. Such was their anger with him that that same day they began to plot how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus taught the importance of loving our enemies and praying for them. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus told how a Samaritan man sacrificially helped a Jewish man who had been robbed and beaten. The Samaritan did this even though the Jewish people treated Samaritans as enemies because they were a mixed-race people.

The experience of coming to know Jesus Christ as our Saviour involves being reconciled to God. Naturally we are all hostile to God until our hearts are changed when we experience his love. The death of Jesus on the cross was the greatest ever expression of love. God, his Father, was willing to allow his only Son to pay the price of our sins so that we might be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life. Love has the power to turn enemies into friends. The Apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

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