“But I say to you who are listening:
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.”
Having spelled out some blessings (vv.20-23) and woes (vv.24-26), Jesus now teaches the disciples to have a wholly countercultural response to those who persecute them.
The love that the disciples were to show their enemies was, simply, unconditional. Loving those that love us is easy (Luke 6.32) but loving those that hate you, curse you, and mistreat you is far harder. This is what Jesus is calling His disciples – and now you – to do: unconditionally love those who hate, curse, and mistreat you. This is countercultural, radical, and mind-blowing in equal measure. So as C.S. Lewis pondered, are these the words of a liar or a lunatic?
Well, He’s not lying and asking His disciples to do something He’s not prepared do to. Jesus too lived this life of radical, unconditional, countercultural love, didn’t He? For examples, try 1 John 4.19, John 13.34, Romans 5.5, or 1 John 3.16, here.
Perhaps these claims don’t correspond to reality, maybe Jesus was speaking in lunacy here? The idea to unconditionally love those who hate, curse, and mistreat you is so radical, so countercultural, and so not-normal that some may have thought it lunacy. But, when we consider that all of humanity – past, present, and future – is made in God’s image (Genesis 1.27), that all of humanity was in the mind and on the heart of the Lord when He died for their salvation (1 John 2.2, note “whole world”), and that throughout Scripture we are encouraged to love one another (Proverbs 25.21-22) then actually, the command to unconditionally love those who hate, curse, and mistreat you is just being consistent with God’s message to mankind.
Again then, not the words of a liar, nor a lunatic, the words of the Lord.