ONE thing that distinguishes Christianity from other religions is not only its doctrine of purity, but also its sophistication and erudition. While all other religions talk about love and care for your neighbours and kin, Christianity goes beyond human comprehension of love and advances it to love and care of even your enemies. This is why others chide Christian faithful and believers are taken for granted. But that is what makes it stand out as the true religion.
Lev. 19:17-18 states, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD”.
The above is the law as was given to Moses. It says one should not do his neighbour any kind of evil, including harbouring hatred in his heart towards him. But the inference drawn by the Jews from this teaching was that one should only love his neighbour and probably his kin. This, they believed would make them pure and dutifully comply with the law. They supposed that if they loved only their neighbours, they must, of course, hate the other. The entire world believes religious conviction should end at this doctrine of only loving your neighbour.
However, the teaching of Christ jolted the conclusion of the Jews on love and advances the argument for a better and pure religion.
Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them, which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Mtt. 5: 43-44).
Here comes the difficulty of Christianity. This is where the challenges lie and this is what distinguishes Christianity from other religions. Those who claim to be Christians must give heed to this teaching. That is why Christ said if any man will come after Him, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him. The principle of this teaching is the carrying of Cross and following the way of Christ the Master and nothing less.
Praying and being ready to do good unto them that despitefully use and persecute you, which are the highest expressions of enmity, is like doing the impossible. Yet we are commanded to pray and show sincere affection towards them who are our most malicious enemies.
Although we cannot approve their conduct but we must love them. It is impossible to love the conduct of a man that curses and reviles you, and injures your person or property but though you may hate his conduct, and feel deeply that you are affected by it, yet you must wish him well for the Lord has commanded it. We may pity his madness and folly but we must still speak kindly of him, and not return evil for evil. We must aid him in the time of trouble and seek to do him good for this is what we are commanded to do and that is what Christianity is all about. This is the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed; yet that is true religion. Beloved, while others render good for good, let us render good for evil for we are not of the world. While they salute only their brethren, let us salute them also. While they kill us, let us love them.
Roms 12: 20-21 says, “Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”. So, instead of revenge, render kindness; return courtesies for injuries, affability for affronts. The Lord that commanded us thus has not abandoned us. Yes, so difficult but it is our duty to desire, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father.