Jesus taught, “You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
– Matthew 5:43-44
LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE
It’s easier to love some people more than others, right? It’s easy to love a child who’s snuggled close and sleeps peacefully on your chest. It’s easy to love a co-worker who agrees with your decisions and has your back in every meeting. It’s easy to love a friend who always picks up when you call, or often texts you encouraging words and emojis.
It’s much harder to love the child who throws a temper tantrum at church screaming “I hate you!” for all to hear. It’s challenging to love the co-worker who stabs you in the back instead of guarding it for you. And it’s difficult to continually love the friend who takes and takes, but never gives.
It’s challenging to love the people we live with, work with, and bump into every day.
When Jesus walked this earth, He exuded a love that was contagious. He wants everyone to love the Lord our God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30 - 31). By claiming LOVE to be God’s greatest command, Jesus takes love to a whole other level.
When Jesus was asked, “Who’s my neighbor?” He clarified by sharing the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus was an amazing storyteller. He often used stories to highlight God’s values and character. But equally powerful to the stories Jesus told, were the lessons He modeled and lived out. Step into this true story with me and see how Jesus teaches us how to love our neighbors… and our enemies.
At mid-day while all the other women are cooking, cleaning, or napping, she sneaks to the well to fetch her daily supply of water. Her feet move fast, increasing the sweat upon her forehead. When she arrives, oh what a relief, she finds no other women. Thankfully, she’d dodged their judgmental glances and whispered names, for today at least. But wait, someone else is at the well, a Jewish man. That’s fine; he won’t bother her. He probably won’t even acknowledge her existence.
To her surprise she hears, “Will you give me a drink?”
She looks around. Could he be talking to her? Doesn’t he know the clear boundaries? Jews hate Samaritans. They consider them “half-breed”, not even worthy of a single glance. Plus, she’s a woman, the lowest of the low. What is he thinking asking HER for a drink?
A confused look crosses her face. She sputters, “How can YOU ask ME for a drink?” Without hesitation, Jesus reveals His true identity to a shameful woman. Oh my word, she’s standing face to face with the long-awaited Messiah. The one who’s come to save the world. His words are more direct with her than they were even His disciples, who had left everything to follow Him.
With eyes wide open, her heart pounds in Jesus’ presence. He knows she’s been married and divorced five times. He knows she’s with a man now who’s not her husband. He knows everything she’s done and who she’s become, and still He offers her living water – to quench her thirst forever with eternal life. How can this be?
His eyes are loving, not condemning. His invitation changes everything. Out of hiding, she runs back to her village. She confidently shouts for all to hear. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Because of her words, “come and see” and Jesus’ presence in their village for two days, many Samaritans believed and received salvation from the Savior of the world. Heaven is more crowded because one shameful woman stood face to face with Jesus and encouraged others to do the same.
Jesus was on a mission to do the His Father’s will; to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He traveled into enemy territory and stepped over many boundaries. And when He did, hatred became love, shame was washed away, and even gossipers gave God glory. Jesus perfectly modeled what it looks like to love our enemies. Our challenge is…will we follow His lead?
3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES
Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others. I encourage you to read John 4:1-26 and see for yourself the transforming story of a shameful woman who encountered Jesus’ compelling love.
1. Who are the people in your life that are easy to love? Why so?
2. When it comes to loving those who are more difficult to love, in what ways can you follow Jesus’ lead, and even love your enemies?
3. Can you identify with the woman Jesus met at the well? When have you had a powerful encounter with God that changed your life?
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