What is Christmas if it is not the greatest expression of enemies being won over by love? When I say enemies, I mean you and me, us and them, him and her, those folks and these folks and we folks.
Borders have been formed, faith systems have been established, wars are being waged. Christmas is a time to remember the greatest Gift we have ever received and it is a time to remember the Gift does not stop with us, He is the Living Water, and He will flow to all tongues, tribes and nations.
The question is not, “Is this true?”, it is, “Lord, will you use me, one who was once Your enemy, now made a son, to reflect Your love, life, and mission?”
The mark of a believer, following in Christ’s footsteps, is not only distinguished by how one stands up under persecution, but how one loves their enemies. Without Christ, we could not do this. But we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. And this strong standing is not one of puffed up chest but of love filled hearts and upside down acts of sacrificial peacemaking. Christ came into a hostile world, lived in a hostile world, and died by a hostile world. It is hard to love our neighbors, how in the world can we even come close to loving our enemies?
Lord, help me!
I appreciate Calvin’s thoughts on the question:
Who is our neighbor?
“Now, since Christ has shown in the parable of the Samaritan that the term “neighbor” includes even the most remote person [Luke 10:36], we are not expected to limit the precept of love to those in close relationships. I do not deny that the more closely a man is linked to us, the more intimate obligation we have to assist him. It is the common habit of mankind that the more closely men are bound together by the ties of kinship, of acquaintanceship, or of neighborhood, the more responsibilities for one another they share. This does not offend God; for his providence, as it were, leads us to it.
But I say; we ought to embrace the whole human race without exception in a single feeling of love; here there is no distinction between barbarian and Greek, worthy and unworthy, friend and enemy, since all should be contemplated in God, not in themselves. When we turn aside from such contemplation, it is no wonder we become entangled in many errors.. Therefore, if we rightly direct our love, we must first turn our eyes not to man, the sight of whom would more often engender hate then love, but to God, who bids us extend to all men the love we bear to him, that this may be an unchanging principle: whatever the character of the man, we must yet love him because we love God.” John Calvin 2.8.55