43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We often forget just how radical Jesus was in the first century. His teachings were so far from the teachings of his time, in particular, the teachings about how we should treat our enemies, strangers, and foreigners. The verses today, part of the Sermon on the Mount, give clear instructions about how we are to treat our enemies. Jesus explained that God takes care of all of his creation, loves all of us the same, and so should we.
This week, we’ve been looking at the idea that we were each made in God’s image. Part of our work in this life is to recognize that imago Dei in ourselves and in each other. And while the text today does not explicitly say we are made in God’s image, it certainly implies that all human beings are important to God, whether we call them enemies or not.
Jesus taught what few had taught before, to love one’s enemies. We have become accustomed to that idea, whether we live it out is another story, but to first century hearers, it made no logical sense. Yet, if we are all image bearers, it makes perfect sense. As Jesus followers, it has to make sense. Franciscan Friar, Richard Rohr tells us, “In terms of the soul, it really is all or nothing. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we end up not seeing it at all. There is a first epiphany, and gradually the circle keeps moving outward, widening its embrace.”
Can you see God’s image in your enemies, in the people not in your crowd, in the people on the fringe of society? I suggest you begin to look deeply for it. Pray for eyes to see others as God sees them, and allow your heart to be changed.
God of all Creation, thank you for creating me in your image. Help me grow into that image and become the truest version of myself. Show me the image of God in every face I encounter. Help me grow in my love for you and others. Give me humility, grace, and compassion. Let me lead others to recognize your image in them as well. I love you, Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.