Why Should I Love My Enemies: Modern Versus Biblical Love


Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a sermon Wang Yi, pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, preached on Matthew 5:38-48 before he was imprisoned in 2018. This is the second in a series of excerpts from this sermon; part one can be found here.

In this selection, Wang questions dominant understandings of love espoused by many Westerners. He invites controversy , going so far as to call the the type of love practiced by Mother Teresa “opposed to the gospel.” He says modern notions of love which reject truth and judgment ultimately erase the cross.


38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mt. 5:38-48

Love Outside of Christ

Today, euthanasia is legal in many Western countries. Several decades ago, I saw a film depicting a loving doctor. Despite legal and moral objections, he assisted a terminally ill patient in ending their suffering. The film suggested that euthanasia itself was an act of love.

Predominant societal views of love emphasize diversity and tolerance. This view of love rejects both absolute truth and the singular God and his Son, Jesus Christ

In the same way, the movement for same-sex marriage, which has achieved overwhelming acceptance in many Western societies, is not merely a rights movement. It is a moral movement. It redefines love, convincing many that loves knows no boundaries, including gender.

Today, predominant societal views of love emphasize diversity and tolerance. This view of love rejects both absolute truth and the singular God and his Son, Jesus Christ, who demonstrated love on the cross. The love Jesus showed is about blessing. But it is simultaneously also about curses, blood, and enemies. In both China and the West, love pursued and defined outside of Christ and his cross promotes diversity and tolerance. Yet this love eliminates the concepts of enmity, justice, vengeance, and the curse. This love equates the absence of these things with love itself. These so-called religions of love are, in fact, enemies of the gospel.

In his teachings, Jesus outlined two types of love: loving those who love us, and loving our enemies. Jesus said any definition of love that contradicts these two loves is not real. It is a moralistic love, one he himself opposes.

Love Opposed to the Gospel

I would like to discuss an example of love that provokes struggle within the church whenever it is mentioned. This is the love demonstrated by Mother Teresa. In both Protestant circles and in the secular world, Mother Teresa is regarded as the embodiment of love on earth. Were her actions right and good? Undoubtedly. Helping the poor, caring for and showing compassion to those in need is certainly a good thing. But one reason she is so strongly seen as a symbol of love is because she loved people of all religious beliefs equally.


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Love pursued and defined outside of Christ and his cross promotes diversity and tolerance, but eliminates the concepts of enmity, justice, vengeance, and the curse. This love equates the absence of these things with love itself. These so-called religions of love are, in fact, enemies of the gospel.


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Please pay attention. When she loved a Hindu or a Buddhist, Mother Teresa’s purpose in caring for them was not to evangelize them and give them a chance to hear the gospel and be saved from eternal damnation and the fiery wrath of God. She said, “I’ve always said that we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”

Mother Teresa was viewed as an idol of the type of love that opposes the gospel of Jesus. It seems like her love was even greater than the love of Christ, because her purpose in loving non-Christians was not to convert them to Christianity. She just wanted to help Buddhists be better Buddhists, Chinese be better Chinese, Japanese be better Japanese.

Do you feel the pressure and atmosphere of modern culture? Is this really a greater love? Or is it a way of erasing the cross? Is this love a method of nullifying enmity by telling you there is no enmity at all?

Love: Tolerant and Pluralistic?

This modern notion of love has historical precedent within the church. For instance, Pearl S. Buck, the famous daughter of American Presbyterian missionaries to China, famously held the view that we should not evangelize the Chinese because they have their own religious beliefs. Instead of evangelizing, we must respect Chinese culture and religion. She believed that her purpose was to help the Chinese, not to destroy their ideas or beliefs by imposing Christianity upon them.

Do you feel the pressure and atmosphere of modern culture? Is this really a greater love? Or is it a way of erasing the cross?

In his renowned book China and the Christian Impact, French sinologist Jacques Gernet depicted Matteo Ricci’s journey to China.[1] Gernet wrote that China did not need Christianity, because China had its own religious belief, suggesting that Christianity’s entrance into China would inevitably lead to a massive cultural clash.

This notion of pluralistic love has greatly influenced today’s church and today’s Christians. This concept of a tolerant love has led us to lose the focus of our faith: Jesus Christ, and his love, demonstrated on the cross.

 

[1] Matteo Ricci was an Italian Jesuit priest who helped establish the Catholic church in China in the 1500s and 1600s.


Wang Yi is a Chengdu pastor who was arrested on December 9, 2018, as part of a crackdown focused on his church, Early Rain. He was sentenced to nine years in December of 2019, and is currently in prison.  

Pray for Chinese believers to understand and believe in biblical love.

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

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Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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