Relationships can be difficult to the point that we do everything we can to avoid them. We do our best to find people that we click with, rather than interact with anyone God puts in our path. I believe this is what Christ had in mind when He said “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) A neighbor is anyone in close proximity. Christ so profoundly believed this that He said if a person loves God first they can love anybody, and by doing this they would obey the entire Old Testament. Dealing with difficult relationships is something we often want to avoid when Christ says these are the most rewarding situations. (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:9-21)
Two little teardrops were floating down the river. One tear drop asked the other, “Who are you?” The second teardrop replied, “I’m from a woman who lost her lover. And you?” The first teardrop said, “I’m from the woman who got him.” Michael Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching
In a “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy says to Snoopy: “There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug.” Snoopy replies: “That’s the way I am – huggable and buggable.” Robert L. Short, Parables of Peanuts
This is the way it seems with Christ. He seems huggable when He says to us that He loves us, would never leave us, provide for all our needs, and bless us. But He seems buggable when He instructs believers to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
The reason why Christ says this is because He is seeking to reward us and strengthen all at the same time.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” (Luke 6:28-36; NASU) I know this sounds hard to do. It can be hard for me too. This is why Christ instructs us to focus on loving Him first. (Matthew 22:36-40; John 14:15) The individuals who will find the strength to love the unlovable are those who prove to be Christ disciples. (John 14:34-35) When we experience this strength through the Holy Spirit, we save ourselves from being destroyed by hate and resentment.