Study Guide: No Enemy

Sunday October 30, 2016 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this third week of our Without Borders series and a week before the election we are reminded that Jesus' challenge to us in loving our enemies was designed to remind us that God has no human enemies. He has called us to be agents of peace, to find the commonality between us and to build on it. This practice will be exceedingly challenging during this election time. We are quick to blame and quick to judge. Jesus invited people on the polar opposites of the political controversy of his day to be brothers within his community of disciples.

Extended Summary:

In this third week in our Without Borders series, Greg Boyd emphasizes that the foundational call of Kingdom people is to model the self-sacrificial and enemy loving character of Jesus. The fact that Jesus teaches so explicitly on the importance of loving your enemy and that the church has historically watered down this message is of critical importance in this volatile election season in the United States.

Jesus’ teaching on the importance of loving enemies is seen most explicitly in Luke 6: 27-8, 32-33, 35-57 and 41-42. We see in these passages a close connection between loving ones enemies and avoiding living in judgment of others along with five critical components to this type of love. First, there is no exception to the command to “love your enemies” and no caveats made about whom this does NOT include. Second, the context of Jesus’ statement in the midst of Roman oppression would have provided an obvious exception to loving ones enemies if an exception were intended. Third, Jesus bases this command on the character of the Father and it is also seen in the enemy loving character of Jesus’ crucifixion. Fourth, loving enemies is noted as a defining characteristic of being a child of God and is part of a different kind of Kingdom. Fifth, Jesus understands that in the context of our present world this command will seem strange and Jesus becomes the exemplar of his own command on the cross.

Jesus could only refrain from violence and retaliation because he left all judgment to God. This contrasts to our world where judgment permeates everything and is seen in our “Me First” disease. This propensity towards judgment is the original sin of Genesis 3 where we cling to our desire be the determiner of good and evil, but without the knowledge to back up that desire.. Jesus kingdom comes into our judgmental merry-go round and says, “Get your life from me and you can hop off the judgmental merry-go round of mayhem.” We are called to be ambassadors to put on display the beauty of the Kingdom of God. This involves staying above the categorizations of the world and the typical Us vs. Them distinctive. The enemy-loving Kingdom of Jesus is one where there is an Us, but no Them; a Center, but no Borders.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Spend some time to picture a current political candidate or someone you have a hard time loving. Do you see them as an enemy? Does your view of them agree with God that they were worth dying for?
  2. Do you feel like you are living on the judgmental merry-go round? What is one thing you could do this week to allow God to begin freeing you from this cycle?
  3. What is most concerning to you about living out your faith “Without Borders”? What is it that could potentially be lost or threatened?

Action Steps for Growth Groups:

  1. As Greg mentioned in the sermon think of 3 people that you struggle to love. Pray for them daily and share that experience with your group.
  2. Plan to attend the Prayer/Communion service on Nov 8th at 7:30 with others from your group.
  3. Greg explained that the sun shines and rain falls on everyone without exception and without judgment. So how can you this week take tangible action to bless someone who you find difficult to love. This person could be in your family, work, neighborhood…anywhere in your life that you find it difficult to love someone.