From the Pastor’s Heart
Watchword July 2023
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5, near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: "Your Father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and lets it rain on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45) When I look at the sentence in context, I realize that this is about the call to love one's enemies.
To put it bluntly: What about such love of enemies, can we do it? Perhaps our first thought is: "I don't have any enemies, so I don't need to think about this". The answer may be correct, but that doesn't solve the problem. Just by not calling anyone my enemy, I can't escape Jesus' words. It applies to all those who are unsympathetic toward me, to those that annoy me, to all those with whom I would prefer not to have anything to do. I am to show love for enemies to those who, like me, are Christians and belong to the church. But also, to all those who are far from the faith. Can we love all these people? Too often I can't, and sometimes I even wonder if what God is asking for here is right. Is it really just that the Father should let His sun rise on the evil and the good, and let it rain on the just and the unjust? Wouldn't it be fairer, wouldn't it be much better for everyone, if he discerned, if he sorted out the unrighteous and the wicked? How much suffering would be spared to others if God loved only the righteous, the good, but not the others. There just simply are not any easy answers to these difficult questions.
But whoever thinks this way forgets that the one who acts in this way is the Father. It is not easy for earthly fathers to break off their relationship with their children. It is even harder for earthly mothers - and it hardly matters what their children have done, or what guilt they have brought upon themselves. Letting go is not easy, breaking off the relationship is even more difficult. This has to do with the cross of love. There is an inner connection that usually hinders us from simply letting go or breaking it off. Blood is thicker than water. I believe that God is much more a Father than our earthly fathers, and that God is more of a mother than all our earthly mothers.
This certainly has something to do with hope. Even earthly fathers and mothers always have hope that their children will still find the good, the right way from their point of view. And this also has to do with love. I believe our Heavenly Father loves all of His children with infinite love. He loves those who love him, but He also loves those who are indifferent about faith, and about God.
Yes, God loves His enemies too. He loves those of his children who declare themselves his enemies. That is why the apostle Paul can also say in his letter to the Romans that Jesus reconciled us to God while we were still enemies (Romans 5:10). Paul takes man's enmity against God very seriously.
But he also knows that this is precisely why God sent his Son Jesus Christ into this world. If this is so, perhaps God's patience will become more understandable. Then His waiting and hope will become understandable. But above all, his actions.
God is and remains patient, and even more, here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents this patience to the disciples as an example. Nevertheless, there is probably no simple answer to the question of how peace can be restored, neither in the personal nor in the global sphere.
For today, it may suffice that we go into everyday life with the longing for a life according to the nature of God, because "God is love, and they who abide in love abide in God, and God in them" (1 John 4:16).
Sincerely yours in Christ,