Love your enemies. Luke 6:27
The handshake spoke volumes. On a March night in 1963, two college basketball players—one Black, one White—defied the hate of segregationists and shook hands, marking the first time in Mississippi State’s history that its all-White men’s team played against an integrated team. To compete in the “game of change” against Loyola University Chicago in a national tournament, the Mississippi State squad avoided an injunction to stop them by using decoy players to leave their state. Loyola’s Black players, meantime, had endured racial slurs all season, getting pelted with popcorn and ice, and faced closed doors while traveling.
Yet the young men played. The Loyola Ramblers beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 61–51, and Loyola eventually went on to win the NCAA national championship. But what really won that night? A move from hate toward love. As Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
God’s instruction was a life-changing concept. To love our enemies as Christ taught, we must obey His revolutionary mandate to change. As Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But how does His new way in us defeat the old? With love. Then, in each other, we can finally see Him.
In your life, what leads you to see others as enemies? What changes can you make to confront hate with Jesus’ love?
Help me, loving God, to see others not as enemies, but as Your precious people to love like Jesus does.
The challenging commands that Jesus gives in Luke 6:27–31 are clear: we’re to love, bless, and do good to others. By reading further, however, we see the rationale for these exhortations: “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (vv. 35–36). When followers of Jesus “flip the script” on hate, abuse, and selfishness, they demonstrate their kinship to their heavenly Father whose care is shared without discrimination. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1–2 carry the same sentiment: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”