Huddles: October 2, 2019

Rescued to a Kingdom: Love Your Enemies

The Main Idea

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching the people what it means to live as someone saved by grace, adopted into the family of God, and now playing an active role in the Kingdom of God! We have seen that many of the instructions given by Jesus will rub up against our natural tendencies. The goal is that students will be able to identify people in their life that are hard to love, or that they have deemed as an enemy. Then, they will commit to extending the love and grace of God to these people.

The Lead-In

FIRST, explain that today, we will be covering how Jesus wants us to handle dealing with our enemies. Ask people to list some well-known villains. (Voldemort, Scar, Captain Hook, etc.)

Ask them:

  • What makes a good villain?
    • Answers will vary.
  • When I say the word “enemy,” what comes to mind? 
    • Answers will vary.
  • Don’t answer this out loud. Think for a moment. Do you have a person or people in your life that you would consider an enemy?
    • Allow time for students to think.
  • What do you think about them? How do you treat them? When their name comes up in conversation, what do you say?
    • Again, allow time for students to sit and think about their answers.

 

NEXT, wrap up this section by saying something like this:

  • Most of us don’t have enemies like the ones we listed. However, we do have people in our lives that seem like they are against us. We have people that we interact with that are difficult to love. You wouldn’t necessarily say they’re your enemy, but you wouldn’t consider them a friend. As we look at how Jesus tells us to interact with people who are hard to love, think about the people in your life who are annoying, hard to love, or possibly cause you harm.

 

Digging In

Take a moment and review what we have covered so far.

Lesson 1: No love for anger

-We learned that we are to put off anger and put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love

Lesson 2: No place for lust

-We learned that lust is just as bad as adultery. We addressed the fact that it is not merely about not committing adultery, but that the sin starts in the heart.

Lesson 3: No heart for retaliation

-We learned that instead of hurting someone in return when we’ve been hurt or wronged, we are to replace the desire to retaliate with the choice to love.

NOW, tell students to turn to Matthew 5:43-48 in their Bibles. While they are setting give them context for what they are about to read. We are still in the Sermon on the Mount, which is Jesus’ longest recorded sermon. Jesus is reframing the Old Testament law to show that it is impossible to obey completely. Also, Jesus is teaching people what it means to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, saying that He is showing the way of life that is expected of them.

ASK someone to read the text out loud, and then ask them something like:

  • What popular teaching was Jesus referencing? How does He correct this misinterpretation?
    • Answer: He is referencing the teaching that stated that people should love their neighbor and hate their enemy. Jesus, however, tells us that we should love and pray for our enemies.
  • Why do you think Jesus instructs his audience to love their enemies?
    • Answer: Loving your enemies is the way of the Kingdom of God. Loving our enemies tangibly communicates the gospel. Hate has no place in the Kingdom of God.
  • How does our culture say that we should treat our enemies? Why is Jesus’ teaching here controversial?
    • Answer: Our culture encourages actively opposing and speaking against those we have deemed “enemies.” The command to love our enemies goes against our natural tendencies and what others encourage. In a society that is inundated with slander and gossip, it is easier to love our friends and hate our enemies.
  • How would you define an enemy?
    • Answer: Examples of enemies can include Nazis, ISIS, or people we are at war with. An enemy is someone who we have something against or are hard to love.
  • What are some types of people that are hard to love?
    • Answers will vary. Responses could include people who have betrayed us, let us down, gossiped about us, stolen from us, taken advantage of us, or insulted us. Sometimes it is merely someone different from us.
  • Why do you find it difficult to love these kinds of people?
    • Answers will vary. Answers could include that it was wrong for people to hurt us intentionally, and could also be that they feel justified in their response to these people.
  • How often do we pray for people who persecute us?
    • Answers will vary.

 

THEN ask students to turn to Leviticus 19:18. Explain that this is the text that Jesus is referring to in Matthew 5:43-48 when he says, “You have heard that it was said.”

ASK, Does this passage teach us to hate our enemies?

  • This passage does not tell us to hate our enemies but instead puts an emphasis on loving your neighbor and fellow countrymen.

Now that there is more context dig deeper into Matthew 5:43-48. Ask something like:

 

  • Think back to Matthew 5:43-48. How was Leviticus 19:18 being warped by the teachers in Jesus’ time?
    • Answer: Evidently, they were teaching people to love their neighbors but hate their enemies. The teaching had turned from one of love for neighbors to one of hatred for enemies.
  • How was Jesus correcting the teaching of the day?
    • Answer: The religious leaders were missing the point. One of the marks of being in God’s family is extending love to people who don’t deserve it. (Reference verse 45)
  • What does the passage say about how God treats people who are evil?
    • Answer: The sun shines on both the good and the evil people. The rain falls on both the just and the unjust. The idea is that God blesses both the righteous and unrighteous.
  • What does it say about us if we only love people who love us?
    • Answer: Anyone can love people who love them back. A true mark of love is when we love people who are difficult to love.

 

THEN, explain to the students that one of the purposes of the Sermon on the Mount is to teach us how to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom. We need to look at why loving our enemies is something that we must value. Remind students that the only way into the Kingdom of God is by placing our faith and trust in Jesus, and declaring Him LORD. Ask students to turn to Romans 5, and have someone read verse 10.

  • How does this verse describe our relationship with God before we believed in Jesus?
    • Answer: We were enemies of God.
  • What does it mean that we were God’s enemies?
    • Answer: It means that we were opposed to the things of God. Really, we were rebels. We had rebelled against God and refused to obey His commandments. We were actively rejecting His authority in our lives.
  • Is it hard to think of yourself as an enemy of God? Why?
    • Answer: No one likes to think of themselves as an enemy of the God of the universe. We think of ourselves as friends of God or at least neutral with Him. It blows our ego to think about ourselves like this.
  • How did God treat us even though we were His enemies?
    • Answer: He sent His son to die for us so that we could be reconciled (restored back to right relationship) back to Him.
  • How does knowing that God loved you even when you were His enemy make you feel?
    • Answers will vary
  • Does it change the way you see and treat other people?
    • Answer: It should. Since God loved me when I was His enemy, then this radically changes the way that I see my enemy.

 

THEN, say something like this:

This is why Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. The very foundation of Christianity is Jesus laying down His life for and loving His enemies- us. The motivation for us loving our enemies isn’t just to obey Jesus. We are compelled to love our enemies because we were enemies who have been loved. Jesus loved us when we were rebels who refused to submit to his lordship. Loving our enemies is not a command to be nice to people. It is the heart of the gospel. It reflects this new life as citizens of God’s Kingdom. When we become citizens of God’s Kingdom, we strive to be more like Jesus. Since Jesus radically loved His enemies, we join our new King and love our enemies as well.

 NEXT, have students turn to Romans 12 to understand better how to love our enemies. Have someone read the verse aloud.

  • How does the text say that we are to love our enemies?
    • Answer: Provide for his or her needs. Another way to say it is that we are generous to our enemies.

THEN say something like this:

The underlying thought in this verse is that our kindness would lead our enemies to repentance. The beginning of repentance is being confronted with what we’ve done wrong. So this phrase means that we are to extend kindness to our enemies, believing that our kindness will help them see their wrongdoings and repent.

 

Wrap Up

Start brainstorming with students a list of characteristics that make people difficult to love. These characteristics could include untrustworthy, annoying, mean, etc. Make it clear that they should not call anyone by name, or any specific group of people.

NEXT, instruct students to think about people in their lives who exhibit these characteristics. Again, remind them not to say names out loud. Perhaps this is a friend who betrayed them, an absent parent or an annoying classmate.

Explain to students that the people with those characteristics listed and the people they are thinking of are the exact people Jesus commands us to love. Ask them something like this:

  • Why is it so difficult to love people who exhibit these characteristics?
    • Answers will vary
  • What does it say about us if we refuse to love these people?
    • Answers will vary
  • How can we love people who are difficult to love? What are some practical examples?
    • Answers will vary

FINALLY, as you close the lesson, give students time to pray for the people in their lives who are hard to love. Encourage them to pray for that God would provide them with the strength to love unlovable people.

After the period of silent prayer, make sure there are no closing thoughts, and then close in prayer, asking God to help you all love your enemies.