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On Faith: Loving your enemies

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus telling his disciples that they should love those that persecute them. In this increasingly fractured world, Jesus' words have never been more timely.

Why should we love those that persecute and hate us? Why would Jesus make this a commandment and not a "suggestion"? I believe that it is to stop us from dehumanizing those that disagree with us.

This notion of "loving our enemies" is not about allowing those that persecute us to abuse us or take advantage of us — it's to stop us from becoming like them. Jesus is telling us to pray for and demonstrate compassion toward those that would cause suffering and injustice or even those whose words and actions threaten our very existence.

How can we love our enemies? First, we must stop dehumanizing those that do not see the world as we do. This is a necessary first step toward creating discussion where only angry words existed.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, we must stop expecting that the world is fair. It is not fair and it likely never will be. If you don't want to be judged, you must be the one to stop judging others. If you do not want to be told how to live your life, you must be the one to stop telling others how to live their lives. We must start by setting the example for others to follow.

Jesus demonstrated radical love toward people because they had inherent value as a part of God's creation. That kind of radical love requires that we practice forgiveness and grace in the face of persecution. That is how we demonstrate faith in real life.

If you call yourself a follower of Christ, but your life does not reflect his grace, I challenge you to begin a journey that examines your actions and your motives for following Jesus.

If you don't currently attend a church, but want to know what it looks like to live out your faith in real life, we invite you join us as we undertake this journey together. We meet on Sundays at 10 a.m. and you can find us online at onelifecc.tv or on Facebook at facebook.com/onelifeccmn.

"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. The Rev. Jason Standfield is the lead pastor at OneLife Community Church in the North Shore neighborhood of Duluth. Pastor Jason holds a master's degree in theology and culture from Northwest University and is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.

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