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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
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Jesus' Teaching: Love Your Enemies

What did Jesus teach about love?

Jesus’ teaching is very clear that we are to love one another, even those who we consider our enemies.

'You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.’ (Matthew 5:43-46)

Free Person Holding a Stress Ball Stock PhotoJesus taught that the two greatest commandments were to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love for all people was at the very centre of Jesus’ message. He told The Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate this:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have." (Luke 10:30-35)

The Samaritans and Jews were sworn enemies and so for the Samaritan to show such love was even more amazing. Jesus wanted everyone to be like the Samaritan, to love and help everyone, even their enemies.

This kind of love is known as agape love. It is the kind of love that God has for all humans: the highest form of love, sacrificial and unconditional.

Because of Bible teachings such as these, some Christians believe in pacifism, ie that all wars and acts of violence are wrong, and disagreements should be resolved via peaceful means.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - St Paul (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
This famous passage from the Bible is often used at weddings. Why do you think that is? What does it teach Christians about how to treat people?