Jesus said, 'You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you. Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.'
You have heard that 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 children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? ... Do not even the Gentile do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Some years ago in the US a huge Christian event was held in Indiana to retell the story of Jesus of Nazareth. There was to be a cast of 1,000 people, and it included camels, horses, and sheep. National publicity informed the interested that they would be able to "Discover how God can heal you, extend your life, and destroy your enemies!"
Who wouldn't be interested in getting rid of their enemies, after all even at school we learn that unless we fight back we shall be seen as weak and others will pick on us even more. We don't need to be taught to retaliate for any hurt that someone gives us, it's an instinctive reaction. But this is the law of a fallen world.
Jesus teaches us in the last passage of The Beatitudes that God's Kingdom is different, and though we live on the earth we are really citizens of Heaven. God's Kingdom is both here, but not yet completely here, and He invites us to try living a new way. This is going to be really difficult, because it means fighting our own selfish desires and impulses. But we need to see our lives through the lens of God's camera - we are to love all people, for God loved us even when we were wallowing in sin, He did not treat us as his enemies, but sent His Son, Jesus, to save us!
King of kings and Lord of lords,
let us never forget that we are citizens of Your Kingdom,
and as such are called to live a new way -
the way of love.
Help us to fight against instinctive reactions
and selfish desires when others hurt us.
May we continue to grow into the people
You would have us be in Your Kingdom.
When we dislike someone, but would like to change our attitude, we can try and put ourselves in their shoes - to see things from their perspective. The following site offers some helpful thoughts: