Friends and Enemies
Loving one another—even your enemies!
A piece of burlap and a piece of flannel or some other soft fabric.
"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." Matthew 5:43-44
I brought two pieces of cloth today. Look at this one, it is called burlap. Most of you have seen it before, it is a cloth that is often used to make bags. Feel of it. It is rough, rugged, and tough. If you rub it against your face, you will discover that it is scratchy. This other piece of cloth is called flannel. Some children may have a flannel blanket that they like to carry around with them because it is so soft and smooth.
These two pieces of cloth remind me of different kinds of people we may meet each day. Some are rough, irritating, and unkind. They may rub us the wrong way and we probably don't like to be around them. Others are gentle and kind and it is very easy to get along with them. We enjoy being around people like that, don't we?
Jesus had a lot to say about how to treat other people. He said we should love others and that means even loving those who are unkind as well as our friends. Just because they are not as easy to love doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love them. In fact, Jesus said we show that we are God’s children by loving those who do not love us.
Can you think of a time when someone was nice to you even though you had not been nice to them? How did that make you feel? When someone is nice to us, it usually makes us want to be nice in return. If we are nice to those who are unkind to us, we might just turn an enemy into a friend!
Jesus set the example for us to follow. He was rejected, ridiculed, and crucified. But when he was on the cross, he prayed for his enemies. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Wow! That is a huge amount of love and forgiveness and that is the kind of love that Jesus wants you and me to have for others—friends and enemies alike.
Dear Father, help us to follow the example that Jesus set for us. Help us to love everyone, friends and enemies alike, so that they will know that we are true children of God. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.