“Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.”
(Luke 6:27, 28)
Sometimes being a follower of Jesus looks very different from the culture around us. The core message of Jesus sometimes sounds very different from the core messages of our leaders in government, media and even religion. I shared with the congregation on Sunday about a book I read shortly after its release in 1989 called Resident Aliens: A Provocative Christian Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know that Something is Wrong. The authors, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, explained that the Christian Church, as a countercultural community, ought to look quite different from the rest of the world around us; and our job is not to “fit in” but to “be” the people who follow the teachings and practices of Jesus. When I look at the words of Jesus, such as, “Love your enemies,” “Do good to those who hate you,” and “Bless those who curse you,” this indeed is different from how others around us act and different from the messages we sometimes here from our leaders.
Every now and then, I hear someone using the Bible, quoting Jesus, Paul and others, in order to promote an agenda that seems to go against the overall message of the Bible and the core message of Jesus, which is to love God, ourselves and our neighbors (including our enemies and the people with whom we disagree) as ourselves. This happened last month when the U.S. Attorney General and the White House Press Secretary quoted Romans 13, when asked about the policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Attorney General quoted the Apostle Paul: “to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them….” When questioned about the same policy, the Press Secretary stated: “It is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
The passage referred to by both is quoted without referring to the context. Here are some of the words directly before the quoted passage:
- Let love be genuine.
- Love one another with mutual affection.
- Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
- Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
- Do not claim to be wiser than you are.
- If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here are some of the words directly after the quoted passage:
- Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
- The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
I find it disturbing that two of the most visible leaders in our country quoted a very short part of our Christian scriptures in order to perform one of the most painful actions imaginable upon children and their parents, when that particular passage is surrounded by so much love! I know that we may all disagree with each other on immigration policy. We may disagree on the means and the ends of what we want and consider good and right, but let us at least remember that when we quote any of the Scriptures, the passage is surrounded by love, love, and even more love.
And so, may we love our enemies. May we love those who disagree with us politically. May we love the families at our borders. May we do our best to love everyone.
Kahu Alan Akana
Our Kahu (Pastor) offers a weekly message in church most Sundays during the year. Click HERE to see a video of his message from this past Sunday. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.