Community-Building: Love your enemies.
Saying the memory verse together at suppertime will imprint it on the hearts of your children forever.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Jesus sets the bar pretty high, doesn't he? Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you. Wow, that is not what our natural reaction is when we are treated badly by others. Our instinctive response is to strike back and/or pull back. We want our enemy to hurt as much as we do. We want those who persecute us to be persecuted. We refuse to have anything to do with them. We harden our hearts against them. In our world we root for the one who gets back at the bad guys (or girls). We'll even cheer in the movies when the persecuted one hurts or even kills their enemy.
We may not be persecuted. But we are hurt by others. What is our response? Do we love? Do we pray for them? Someone once said the best way to change your heart toward your enemy is to pray for them. You can't hate someone you are sincerely praying for. Jesus calls us to a costly love—a love that loves and prays for our enemies. Biblical examples of this kind of response to persecution are Jesus, Stephen, Paul and Peter. This is a response that satisfies Jesus' law of love, not our desire for revenge. I once heard Ken Medema sing a song called, "Flying Upside Down." When we love and pray for our enemies, we are flying upside down in a world that demands revenge. It takes great skill and courage to fly upside down, but Jesus has shown us the way. Are you ready?
JUST THE FACTS
How well did you listen to the story?
Q. Why did the kids have time off from school?
A. The school’s roof needed to be repaired.
Q. What did they decide to do with their free time?
A. Collect food for the Community Shelter.
Q. Who gave them a hard time about this?
A. Skink and Mr. Grouchenburg.
Q. What did the kids do for Mr. Grouchenburg?
A. They baked cookies for him and prayed for him.
This question is meant to help the children develop a biblical understanding of God, who He is and what He does. The "answer" is not meant for parents to read to their children. Rather its purpose is to assist parents in guiding the conversation to this biblical understanding. We encourage you to use an open Bible in this conversation, building biblical literacy and well as a biblical theology.
Why do you think that Jesus tells us to love our enemies?
Reading further in Matthew 5 helps us understand. Jesus says that when we love our enemies we demonstrate that we are children of God and that we are like God (see 1 Peter 2:23). It also makes us stand out in the crowd as children of God—anybody can love a friend, or someone who is nice to them. But it takes a special person to love an enemy (see v. 46, 47). And how can we love an enemy? We are able to love when we remove the barrier of unforgiveness, when we recognize that God cares about our enemies (v. 45), and when we ask the Holy Spirit to help us love our enemies as God loves us.