Love your enemies.
Simple. Direct. Crazy. But, why should I? How could I?
In theory, it’s already hard to postulate. In practice, what more? The world sees this as the craziest idea – a world that demands justice, revenge, vengeance sugar-coated into something we sometimes use as ‘I’m just teaching him a lesson’ or ‘He deserves it’. Oh, how kind of us, teaching lessons, giving deserving presents! And the world who loves gossips and dramas would be against a person who quietly accepts persecution and forgives – corny, boring, stupid.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38 – 42
Personally, I struggle with this command. It’s just too hard to comprehend and it goes against lessons the society has taught me growing up. I look at a society that demands payment for everything, strings attached, no such thing as free lunch mate! So why would I give my other cheek, hand over my coat, walk the extra mile and tire myself and lend all the stuff that I worked hard for without even knowing if they’ll be returned? They’re not gifts! Yet I tried. I wanted to be in the right with God and to be, at least sometimes in life, obedient. With my own capacity, I tried all sort of ideas humanly possible to achieve it and ta-da… fail! Sometimes we think, ‘I can do that, I can endure a few persecutions, a little hardship, or I can just pretend it doesn’t exist.’ But enduring or pretending can reach its toll and we find ourselves with more hatred instead of love. God is not asking us to endure, He wants us to transcend.
For me to start understanding what it means to love my enemies and to transcend, I have first to believe and understand the love that God has for me.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Not just to understand but to let His love overtake me, overwhelm me, and compel me.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Knowing God’s love is a step but knowledge will not be any good without being used. A profession of faith is useless if they’re but words without those emotions which move your innermost into different directions that you want to explode and the only way to calm them is to act – faith is useless when uttered but not lived.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deed is dead.” James 2:26
I cannot tell you how to love your enemies in a systematic way because the Holy Spirit works in each of us differently in accomplishing the same result. And even if we have a handbook entitled “How To Love Your Enemies”, who are we kidding? We won’t follow them anyway, especially when we find things against the will of our flesh, against our pride, or exposing our human weaknesses. We need not look farther, the Bible is right there, Life’s handbook available and waiting to be opened, read, and applied but very few of us take it seriously. What I am certain is this: living in God’s love will sustain me, grant me the strength to transcend persecutions, and help me love my enemies; and praying for my enemies is one step towards loving them.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
12/15/2016 12:13 PM