Loving just like our Father


I’m convinced that if there is one thing the world really needs to know more about, and to put into practice, it is love.  Our Lord stressed the importance of loving others, even if they were our enemies, in His Sermon On The Mount.  In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus said, ⁴³“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; ⁴⁵ That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ⁴⁶ For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
⁴⁷ And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? ⁴⁸ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I’m afraid that our first reaction when we hear these words of Jesus is to think that He is being unrealistic, telling us to do something that we can’t possibly do.  But Jesus doesn’t make impossible demands.  What He is asking of us is to conduct ourselves so that when people look at us they will see a family resemblance between us and our heavenly Father.  The reason He gives for telling us to “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” is “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:44-45).  At the end of that chain of thought He admonishes us in a different way to be like our Father: (Matt. 5:48) ⁴⁸“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”   Jesus wants us to resemble attributes of the Father.  
So how does the Father love us?  First we need to establish that the kind of love being described here is of the very highest order.  He uses the word “agapao.”  Jesus is talking of the agape kind of love.   This kind of love is not the romantic or erotic love, and not merely the friendship type of love.  The Greeks had different words to specify the kind of love they were speaking of.  Jesus chose the agape type love which is the desire to do that which is the very best for the object of our love. We may not personally like the person we are told to love, but we still seek the very best for that person.  God certainly has love in His heart for all who are created after His image.  He loves us all so much that He gave His only begotten Son for our sakes that we might have hope of “everlasting life.”  (See John 3:16).
While it might be difficult to “Love our enemies,” God’s Son looked upon the very ones crucifying Him and humbly said, “...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 KJV).   If we’re going to resemble the nature of the One who gave it all, we must do more than just love someone who loves us back.  
⁴⁶ For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? ⁴⁷ And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? ⁴⁸ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:46-48).    

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