Church Enemies

You have heard it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing that others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:43 - 48).
Many people stop going to church because they believe it is full of hypocrites. They can no longer handle the people and decide to practice their "Christianity" on their own. Their "church" is now just the people they like to be around.

Loving the church is one way to love our enemies. This text is not only talking about enemies who want to take our lives or harm us in some way, but it is talking about people who don't love us. Going to church and being with people who may be hypocrites is one way to practice loving our enemies. If we can't love the people in the church, what makes us different then those outside of the church?

Christians know better then to think they can abandon the church. Jesus died for the Church. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25)." Put more explicitly, Jesus loved and died for the hypocrites (making a big assumption that we are not hypocrites ourselves) who are going to our churches.  In fact we at one time were also hypocrites, until we received Christ. If the love of Christ is in us, we should love the hypocrites in our churches. Especially since loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is one of the ways that we show our love for Jesus. "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matt. 25:40)."

Loving our church enemies applies to churches as well as individuals. It is amazing how some people treat churches with more contempt then watching an R-rated movie. I once had to suggest to somebody, who did not attend church because they felt most churches were un-biblical, that going to church can't be as bad as going to an R-rated movie which they go to on Saturday night. I don't know if that convinced them, but their life has certainly taken a downward spiral since they stopped attending any kind of church.

When somebody stops going to church it says more about them then the people in the church. It is usually because they want to live life on their own terms and don't like the weekly reminders that God is the King of their universe.


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