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“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” — but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. [1 Corinthians 2.9-10]

What is it like to be loved by someone who loves his enemies?  Paul prayed:  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. [Ephesians 3.17-19] He spoke of the prerequisite to having power – being rooted and established in love – which corresponds to the obedience, practice and mastery of the two commands of love given by Christ:  “Love your enemies,” [Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.27, 35] and, “Love one another.” [John 13.34 and “Love each other.” John 15.12, 17]

The first one causes the ‘rooting’ of you in love, for the loving of your enemies goes against the natural grain.  It is not easy but it is worthwhile.  It is like a tender root pushing against the hard sharp edges of soil grains, seeking out some moisture and some nutrients, having to go down deeper and deeper in darkness.  For that is exactly what loving one’s enemies can feel like – you are bruised, cut and you are ever pushing back, pushing through, finding that small crack, and seeking a reason, a hope, to go on when your enemies are crushing down on you like the weight of soil crushing down on a root.

However, it is this hard unpleasant work in the darkness that truly allows a disciple to be rooted into the word and person of Christ to draw its nutrients from the soil.  So then even though Christ said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches,” [John 15.5] it is not entirely a passive picture on our part in receiving the nutrients from the Vine like a branch only, for there is a pushing into the Vine as if the branch itself is ever ready to sprout roots that would dig into the Vine to seek out its nutrients.  It is this readiness to send out roots which makes a branch suitable for transplantation into its own field and become a vine itself as well, so that the Gardener will go from having one Vine to having a vineyard that is well stocked from the one True Vine.

As such, pursue your enemies with love, like a root pursues water and nutrients, pushing past the sharp ragged edges of the grains of soil.  Pursue them, chase down your enemies as it were, and put them to the sword, but not with the sword of cold dead steel that brings death to the living, but with the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God made alive by His power that brings life and life abundantly to those who are already dead in their sins.  Pursue them unceasingly in prayers, blessings and plans to do good to them.  And when you catch up to them, do good to them according to the word – preach to them the good news, testify to them the truth, share with them your hope, and display the power as you multiply their food and change their water to good wine – and have no fear of them.  For when you have the power to grasp the love of Christ, you will have the power to do these things to those who are your enemies – those who seek to harm you, curse you and lie about you.  Indeed, with power what can they do to your body, and if they cannot even harm your body, what can they do to your soul?  Nothing.  The pursuit of your enemies in love with the Sword of the Spirit is what gives you roots to draw out of the Rock, that is, Christ, the living waters that are in Him for yourself.  For in loving your enemies, you begin to know more of Him and God who sent Him – He who loves His enemies.

Now like all trees that are properly and firmly rooted, they can send up their shoots and branches into the air – a place as it were of no resistance and easy work, of light and warmth like the sun shining on a tree.  It all seems easier, and this is the result of the obedience, practice and mastery of the second command… “Love one another.” However, the branches above face difficulties and hardships that are different from the roots – severe winds that can snap a branch, hail that can shred the leaves, and drought that can wither everything.  However, a tree with deep roots can survive and regenerate.  A tree with shallow roots will wither immediately at a harsh word, like the fig tree when Jesus spoke harshly to it.

A disciple who has not grounded himself in the love of enemies will wither immediately when his brothers and friends speak harsh words, like wind blowing hard against a tree and its branches snap, and because its roots are not deep, like that fig tree it will topple over so that the next day they, the disciples, saw the fig tree withered from the roots. [Mark 11.20] And when the words are followed by actions from your own fellow disciples, friends, brothers and sisters, like hailstones stripping off the leaves, neither can the tree survive.  And when the love from others is gone, as a tree is in drought, again the very existence of the tree is threatened if not for the roots.

As such, the establishment of and the firmness of you and I in love are based on how deeply we have such roots in love… first the love of enemies, and then the love of one another.  It is then and only then that we can survive all that the elements throw at us… survive what we can do to one another in the harshness of our words, deeds and rejection of each other.

It is the earnest practice of love of one another regardless of what the other throws at you that will allow any disciple to survive, and more than survive, to become strong, as in having the power to grasp the love of Christ, like a tree that rejuvenates again and again year after year, waiting for the year of favour to bear fruit successfully.

So likewise, anyone of us who seeks to practise and master these commands of love – “Love your enemies,” and, “Love one another” – is like a tree that has sunk deep roots, whose leaves and branches regenerate even when they are stripped by hailstones, snapped by harsh storms, and withered by drought… trying again and again, waiting for the year of the Lord’s favour to yield forth a fruit worth waiting for… and in our case, the love of Christ filled to the fullness of the measure of God in us.

And Paul, in his supreme mastery of the economy of word, revealed and defined for us in that same sentence the purpose of the power:  …power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ… the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of power, is to display the love of Christ that we have grasped.  To have the power, to be entrusted with the power of the kingdom, has this one divine purpose:  so that by the power, with the power, through the power, that comes only through love obeyed, practised and mastered, we may grasp as we take hold, possess, understand and perceive the magnitude of Christ’s love, not only as an individual, but as part of the fellowship of saints, to display it for all creation to behold, so that all might come to know the full measure of God, so that every miracle, every sign and every wonder you will do from here on with the power of God is to allow you to grasp the magnitude of Christ’s love.  Every ounce of power, from the basic ability to quake one another to changing water to good wine and beyond, has its purpose, and that purpose is to reveal the fullness of God’s love displayed in His Christ for us.  And this power cannot and does not operate in solitude but in fellowship with other saints… other elect, disciples, believers… the entirety of the body.  The difference is the degree to which each individual possesses the power… to those who have, more is given until they have an abundance.

As such, there is much work that is needed, which is intended to strengthen you and prepare you for a destiny that no mind has conceived and no mind can know if they have not the mind of Christ, which knows the thoughts of the Spirit (God).

For as you pursue your enemies to love them, you not only develop the knowledge of how God loves His enemies, but as you pursue your enemies to love them, you afford to your fellow disciples, brothers and friends the love of a friend, brother and fellow disciple who, if he loves his enemies, then how much more he would love his fellow disciples, brothers and friends?  So the experience of being loved by another and loving one another where everyone mutually would lay down his life for each other, is not available unless before you even love one another, you have already loved your enemies first.

Pagans love those who love them, and as such, no pagan can experience this love that Christ commanded us to give one another… no more than trees without roots can bear fruit unless God made them so, like Aaron’s staff.  (When God had to cause Aaron’s staff to bud, flower and bear almonds, it was because of the incessant grumbling the others had against Moses. [Numbers 17.1-5] As such, the budding, flowering and fruiting of Aaron’s staff – a rootless tree that fruited – was a sign given against a fellowship that did not love one another or God… a sign to a group of ingratiates.)

So when those who do not practise love of enemies oppose you, curse you and seek to harm you, learn not to put any hope or faith in what they say or seek to do against you… no more than you would hope to pick fruits off a rootless tree, which is a branch that is cut off and cast on the ground.  And even if those who oppose you seem to show love for each other amongst themselves, know and understand that this love they have for each other is fragile and as enduring as a tree with no root can endure the heat of the day.  See their rejoicing, their unity, for what they are – the joy of the rootless – when trouble comes, it will be gone.

But not so for you… for you who who have endured the hardship of loving your enemies will now enjoy the fellowship of the love of others who love you… for when you are fellowshipping as one who has loved enemies with those who have also loved enemies, you have the assurance that the joy of that love will never wither, but will renew itself in season and out of season, and not just joy, but the goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, peace, love, self control, righteousness, truth and praise you have will also be yours to enjoy.

So then, elect, this is the love that surpasses even knowledge… the love that fills you with the fullness of the measure of God… the love of one who loves his enemies.  This love that never fails to bear fruit will allow you to look in the eyes of one who is your enemy but does not love you, and torment his soul with the light of Christ that shines out of you into his darkness.  So with Paul we say the amen, amen, amen Holy Spirit… forever amen.

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