What is your favourite movie? Why do you like it so much? Is there action and adventure? How about excitement? Most popular movies (and books and television shows and other things that tell a story) centre around some sort of battle between the good guys and the bad guys. It’s usually not hard to figure out who is who. (Hint: the bad guys are more likely to wear dark colours and have large arched eyebrows and/or a sinister smirk.) It’s hard to find someone who wants to stick up for the bad guys. After all, they are usually shown to be rotten to the core!
In real life, it’s a lot harder to tell who the good guys and the bad guys are. Things in real life are rarely so black and white. What if people on both sides of a dispute are good guys? Does God care about bad guys? If so, how do we respond to the people we see as “bad guys”?
Jesus says the following in Matthew 5:43-47 (The Message):
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”
We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and God loves everyone (1 John 2:2). Jesus tells us to echo his actions and to love not only our friends, but our enemies too. This is certainly a counter-cultural idea! In the movies, the “bad guys” would get their just desserts and might seem justifiable for the “good guys” to get revenge. Jesus calls us to something better than that. He wants us to use tough interactions as a chance to practice being our very best – our most God-like character. That way we not only “win”, but we also might be inspiring our very own “bad guys” to be better too!
- Work together to come up with a story about a school bully. Feel free to draw a picture or write the story out. What does the bully character do? How do the people who are being bullied respond? Come up with at least two alternate endings – one where the bully “gets what he/she deserves” and one where he/she is loved.
- Find two magnets that repel on one side and attract on the other side. Try to slide them together. As they repel, talk as a family about how it feels when you don’t get along with someone. Now turn the magnets so they attract. Talk together about ways to love our enemies and how we can remember to “pray for those who persecute us” (Matthew 5:44) instead of trying to get revenge.
This Week’s Challenge:
Do you think anyone has ever seen you as the “bad guy” in a situation? Have any good stories about a time when you or someone you know showed love to their enemy? Pray together asking God to help you love those who aren’t easy for you to love.