Thou Shall Love Our Enemies


This Sunday is the last Sunday of Black History Month. In the lectionary gospel assigned for this Sunday is the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Of all the things that Jesus spoke about in this great sermon, perhaps nothing is as challenging to a Christian’s Faith as the idea in the last part of that sermon, “Love Your Enemy.” Everything about that notion is contrary to our very being. Yet, perhaps nothing is as freeing to one’s spirit and soul as learning to let love overcome hate; and what better way to demonstrate that than by learning to “love our enemies.”

In a sermon written in a Georgia jail and preached just after the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this about loving your enemies:
After noting that hate is just as injurious to the hater as the hated, Dr. King says, “Of course this is not practical; life is a matter of getting even, of hitting back, of dog eat dog… My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the scourge of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.” [Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., page 596, quoted by Chuck Queen, Love Your Enemies]

Two thousand years since the Sermon on the Mount and the death of Jesus, and forty-five years since Dr. King’s death, we are still struggling to truly create the beloved community. Perhaps it’s because we are still struggling with the last part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Dr. King’s writings on “love your enemies.”

Join us at Covenant on this last Sunday of Black History Month, as we “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in testimony to creating a beloved community at Covenant. I will be preaching a sermon called “Thou Shall Love Our Enemies” based on the assigned lectionary scriptural texts of Leviticus 19:1-2, 13-18 and Matthew 5:38-48.


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