Netzarim, Original followers of Yeshua & His 12
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor 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." <NIV>
Yeshua ' commands in our verses for today are not mere quirks of Christian teaching. Even though they seem counterintuitive in the extreme, they arise from the central core of the Christian faith. Even though we may find it easy to overlook them, they are part and parcel of the Christian walk. Yeshua himself left us an example. He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). If the pioneer and perfecter of the faith obeyed these commands, then it is incumbent upon us to obey them as well.
Our Master commands arise from the central core of the Christian faith because they presuppose one of its central teachings. The Apostle Paul, for example, expressed it this way: "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The only reason we are not on the side of the enemies who persecute us, including any Christians who do not treat us well, is due to the gift of God's grace. In and of ourselves we are not superior to them in any way and we do not, therefore, have the right to hate them. Indeed, "There but for the grace of God go I."
Loving and praying for our enemies does not mean that we must reduce ourselves to mere doormats and it does not mean that we may not make use of whatever remedies there are against the forays of those who attack us. Yeshua did not unleash the twelve legions of angels because it was unethical to do so, but because he had a prophetic purpose to fulfill (Matthew 26:52-54). Loving and praying for our enemies does mean, however, that we should speak kindly to them, wish them well, return good for evil, pray for their eternal well-being, and the like.
Loving and praying for our enemies is one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. It is also, on the other hand, one of the highest expressions of the Christian life.