An Atheist mocks Jesus’ command to love our enemies. Let’s discuss that.
Atheist, Mark Dempsey, stated: Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Mark continues: “In the history of bad advice this has to rank in the top ten! If you love your friends as well as your enemies, then you dilute the value of your love, because you have given a precious emotion to all. Moreover, it is unnatural to love your enemies, and it has the potential to make you a dupe, sucker, victim, and even dead. Jesus also advises praying for those who persecute you, and, once again, it is unnatural to do so. To remain mentally healthy, you must do what is natural or normal–not abnormal. I would venture to say that the vast majority of Christians don’t love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. Hypocrites a plenty! What say you?”
Response to Mark’s comment…
Mark, you do not understand the relationship between God and His faithful children. As an atheist, this relationship is foreign and “abnormal” to you because you exist in a relationship with your spiritual father, Satan, who appeases your flesh and give you eyes, ears, a heart, that equate “normal” to the deceit of moral relativism defining this lost and dying World. You are a stranger to the ways of God the Father and you have positioned yourself as His enemy in Time and in Eternity via your alliance with Satan; therefore, God’s love, His wisdom, Plan and purposes for Time and Eternity are foreign to your naturalistic-atheistic worldview (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Mark, I invite you to read the entire 5th-Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes) in order to understand the context of Jesus’ edict to love one’s enemy. Following is the partial text of Matthew 5 you mention in your OP.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB)
Mark, where you fail in your understanding of God’s relationship with His children is differentiating between Justification of the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and the process of Sanctification where the justified sinner is incrementally changed into the image of Jesus concerning a life of righteousness through obedience as the faithful in God prepare for servitude in the Kingdom subsequent to death of body constrained by Time.
Sanctification is an incremental life-long process manifesting by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ; this spiritually morphic change from a life of compromise with evil/disobedience to a life of obedience in the Spirit is at the center of Jesus’ command to love our enemies.
The supernatural life in the Spirit of God is wholly foreign to the natural man who seeks to live and die without knowledge of true life, life that is only possible by obedience to the Spirit of God. Jesus’ words are Spiritual and He is commanding His followers to live apart from this lost and dying World by pursing the things of God which bring true life and peace and fellowship, the origin of which are beyond the constraints of Time.
Jesus’ words to love our enemy is NOT for the benefit of our enemy but for the benefit of the faithful, for the benefit of our sanctification process as we are to become like our God in holiness and purity, in thought and in deed. Loving one’s enemy brings victory over evil through obedience and love. It is by one’s love for God and mankind, created in God’s spiritual image, that God is glorified in this World (John 13:35).
The Apostle Paul, in the Spirit, writes…
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14-21 (NASB)
Mark, as one who loves Jesus Christ, I urge you to turn away from your servitude to Satan and repent of your sins, believe in your heart and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and find forgiveness of sin, peace, joy, assurance in this life in Time and in the life to come in Eternity (Romans 10:9-10).
Rickey D. Holtsclaw