“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 in order that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven…” [Matthew 5:43-45a] After teaching the disciples and the crowd about who is blessed and the do’s and don’ts of right living, Jesus continues his teaching about what the people of God should do and how the people of God should act. What Jesus is commanding is rightly called the hardest commandment—It is a command that seems beyond our ability to attain. Jesus calls us to love not just friend, but also foe.

Consider the context of this command—Jesus has called twelve disciples to be his apostles, divinely appointed ambassadors who would preach his gospel to the world, who are not only to love brothers and sisters in the faith, but now they must also love and pray for those who persecute them—and there are many. The natural response would likely be for us to hate them and hurt them—to strive to get even and make things right. This was the philosophy of the world at that time—and our world seems so often to have the same philosophical leanings today. Unfortunately, even many Christians have adopted much of this same attitude—This was the problem in the first century as well where the Jews had also adopted this worldly philosophy. But God had clearly condemned this attitude in the scriptures.

The challenge of Jesus to love and pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us is the way in which we can be truly recognized as children of our Heavenly Father. Jesus has no biases—He grants favors to both the good and the bad. He tests both the just and the unjust. He loves all, saints and sinners alike—and Jesus is calling us to do the same. Join us this week at Sedona United Methodist Church as the Rev. Fred Mast continues a series of messages focused on Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount in a message entitled “Lord, You Must Be Kidding” (Part II).

Sunday mornings we enter the spirit of worship at 9:30 am featuring meaningful and uplifting music, special times of prayer and passionate life changing messages designed to move you closer in your relationship with Jesus Christ and others. Immediately following worship, you are encouraged and invited to stay and join us in our Fellowship Hall for the friendliest and best fellowship time anywhere featuring delicious snacks and great coffee and always friendship.

We offer a number of book and bible studies: Tuesday’s at 10:30 am & 2:00 PM we offer topical studies at two locations; Wednesday’s our Men’s Bible Study at 9am; and Thursday’s our Women’s Bible Study at 9:45am. So many great missions, ministries and events happening at Sedona UMC—Visit our website at us on www.sedonaumc.org and “Like” us on Facebook. We would love to pray for you!—Prayer requests may be submitted online or by calling us at 928-282-1780. We are conveniently located at 110 Indian Cliffs Road off the Back O’Beyond roundabout on Route 179 in Sedona. All are welcome at Sedona UMC—Come and grow with us!