I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. Matthew 5:43 (MSG)
Someone To Forgive – Affirmation and Action Series – Part 6
AFFIRMATION ON ENEMY LOVE
The dictionary defines an enemy as being “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” An enemy can be personal, tribal, national, global.
As much as I want to be a peaceful, non-violent, loving person, there are those, both close and distant, who I struggle to see as being anything but an enemy. In fact, sometimes having something, or someone, to blame, fight, and conquer, can be quite productive. It’s easier to think of the world in terms of “for and against” and “us verses them;” there’s a wrong side and a right side, to which, if we we're honest, we always deem ourselves to be on the right side. Having someone to fight is easier than having someone to forgive. Or to ask for forgiveness. We love talking about grace, and I think our frequent use of the word diminishes it’s radical and counter-intuitive power.
How do we reconcile Jesus words:
“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.” (Matt 5:43-44 MSG).
It’s easy to be non-violent when no one is threatening you. It’s easy to say that love trumps all when you’re not wounded and hurt and violated. Enemy-love is not easy, Jesus didn’t pretend it was. I don’t have a quick-fix bless-your-enemy formula; I don’t even know what the “five steps to enemy love” would be. I believe in accountability and responsibility, but about redemption and rehabilitation? How do we hold people responsible for their crimes and cling to a doctrine of redemption at the same time?
I do know, I’ve learned and am learning, that we all share the same base note. The same foundation: love. We all came from the same place. We all have a story. We’ve all been hurt and shamed and knocked around by life. Yep, even those who do you harm. There’s a story there, too. We all need healing.
How do I love my enemies? I’m not saying I’m there yet… But I've embarked on a journey. And this helps:
AFFIRMATION: The Divine thread of love runs through all. I recognize the Divine in me, and the Divine in you. We are connected at least on that level. Just as I long for healing, I know that deep down in the one I label enemy, is an ache for healing, too. I want to be part of that healing.
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there, that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.” A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by Liz Milani
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