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A Reconciling Dinner

"There is a saying, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies.' But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5: 43-48 (TLB)

Allison Wilson Lee lives in Florida. The young couple who lived below her flat frequently played loud music at night. Sometimes Allison would ask them politely to turn down their music.

One Saturday, the music was particularly loud. Frustrated, Allison asked her neighbors once again to turn their music down. The young man refused, "I think you're obsessing over it," he responded. Having gotten nowhere, Allison returned to bed. But she regretted that the conversation hadn't gone well. She wanted to make peace, so she offered the only thing she could think of - dinner.

When the day of their dinner arrived, the young man, Brody, arrived alone, since his girlfriend had to work. It felt awkward but Allison pressed on, wanting him to know she held no grudges. After their meal, her relationship with the couple improved. Once, when her car wouldn't start, Brody helped her get to an appointment on time.

To live out our identity as God's children, we are called to love even those who don't love us. Extending kindness toward her neighbors required a willingness to respond with love. God has placed people in our lives who may challenge our ability to love them. How do we respond?

Prayer: Dear Lord, loving people who are challenging to us requires more than human strength. Grant us your power to love them as you love us, in Jesus' name. Amen

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