Be Transformed: Embrace Jesus’ Radical Love

The attraction of the church is its unity amid diversityMy body betrayed me. My subconscious mind directed my body to dismiss her. I unintentionally signaled dislike. My roommate immediately noted the judgment and later mentioned my slip. Oops.

Don’t we all have people we don’t care for? They’re rude. They smell. Our family dislikes them. They’re Democrat or Republican. We disapprove of their lifestyle. They have power over us.

“Stop it!” commands Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, He teaches:

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
Matthew 5:43-44

This sermon is chock full of radically challenging charges that disrupt the status quo. Over hundreds of years the religious leaders instructed the Israelites in keeping the Law of Moses, periods of devotion to God and rebellion, of Promised Land independence and oppressive exile.

Jesus corrects the presiding interpretation and practice of God’s laws.

Saying “You have heard it said,” Jesus restates the Old Testament law that God established in order to teach this group of former slaves to live in community. He formed a nation of His people who lived differently from other nations. Some of the laws set the Israelites apart from the influence of surrounding cultures while they learned to follow His ways.

The Old Testament laws aren’t wrong, but the Israelites missed the point.

For instance, Jesus reinforces the command ‘do not murder’ but explains that murderous intent begins with simple anger. Deal with the root cause before it escalates. (Matthew 5:21-26)

He instructs his listeners that even though the law permits appropriate compensation for harm (an eye-for-an-eye), harboring a grudge and seeking revenge perpetuates the cycle of injustice. Seek justice rather than revenge. (Matthew 5:38-42)

This radical sermon flips many accepted interpretations of Hebrew law on end, including “love your neighbor and hate your enemy”.

Jesus introduces significant change by redefining neighbor and eliminating enemies.

While God shaped a nation apart from other nations, neighbors were fellow Jews. (Leviticus 19:18) The Israelite’s fundamental purpose was to be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 28:14, Isaiah 49:6), to demonstrate the fullness of life possible only under the One True God.
But Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, opens God’s kingdom to all people. Hence Jesus’ expanded definition of neighbor includes everyone, even our dreaded enemies (Luke 10:25-37).

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
Matthew 5:43-44

The Romans, arch enemy #1 at the time of Jesus, brutally crushed the Jews both financially and physically. Praying for this persecutor was a repulsive request. Was Jesus serious? Yes, and He gave the Jews a new job: gather the nations (Isaiah 66:18-19; Jeremiah 3:17-18).

Indeed, Jesus calls us to love, and more…

As followers of Jesus, we not only demonstrate God’s way of life but invite others in.

My prayer is that they will be one, just as you and I are one. - Jesus, John 17:21

— We not only get along with people who are different from us, we seek them out.

— We not only tolerate those who are unkind, we love them like God loves them.

— We pray for every person as a fellow child of God. They are us. We are one.

— We pray because we all have bad days. We all carry scars.

— We pray for those above us and below us in today’s socioeconomic structure because we’re all subject to it.

The remarkable attraction of the church is unity amid diversity, God’s love for everyone.

Loving like Jesus requires costly personal sacrifice. But our sacrifice doesn’t come close to His

As for my body language, I still intentionally try to obscure my inner judgment. But since my thoughts remain, I inevitably slip up. I miss the point. The only path to sincere change is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart. And I am yielding to His reshaping.

We can’t conjure love for people we dislike on our own. Only God’s Spirit can change our hearts to see them like He sees them, to love them as He does. When we’re willing to change, we will be “transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:18

What person or people group comes to mind? Will you pray for them? Are you willing to view them through God’s loving eyes?

#SeedsofScripture #readthebiblebetter #biblestudy #scripturestudy #sermononthemount #Christinme #transformed #betransformed #transformedlife #sanctified #sanctification #LoveYourEnemies


  1. J.D. Wininger on June 27, 2024 at 7:51 PM

    Amen! While I can’t stop my natural, human urges and feelings, I can learn to control them with God’s help so that I keep them to myself and share them with Him, rather than them. I wish I could tell you I’ve perfected that, but I’m a long way from claiming victory of my human self.

    • CathyChung on June 28, 2024 at 6:53 AM

      You’re always so humble J.D. We’re all imperfect but moving closer to the goal. They key is allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work.

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