Undoubtedly, Jesus challenges us to a lifestyle that is clearly different from the norm. It is a lifestyle in which pretention and looking right and acting right mean little. He challenges our hearts!
Nowhere is this clearer than in what I consider to be Jesus' toughest commandment. Here it is: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." And he's not talking about us saying we love Al Queda terrorists who are thousands of miles away. He's talking about that person who has gossiped about your children. He's talking about the boss who has it out for you. He's talking about that church member who sees it as his purpose in life to criticize you each week. He's talking about that coworker who will stop short of nothing to pass you up.
Love them? It is the most unnatural thing a person can do.
Jesus goes on to say we should bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us. And here is the clincher: "If you love those who love you what credit is that to you?" That is natural.
Jesus has not called us to be natural. If that were the case, we would not need him. No, he has called us to be supernatural, because we are powered by that which is supernatural -- the Holy Spirit. To continue to live "naturally" is to deny him the controlling influence in our lives.
Fortunately, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies he is not saying that we should have a pleasant feeling about them. Rather, he is calling us to make a decision of the will -- a decision to do what is in their best interests. It's a decision to see that person as God seems them: An individual who is in need of redemption. That, by the way, puts them on the same level as us. Ouch!