I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last couple of weeks about the idea of loving our enemies; both on an international and a personal level.
On Tuesday, November 10th, the sermon at Wine Before Breakfast was on Luke 6:27-36; love for enemies. At the time, I thought to myself that I don’t really have anyone in my life that I consider an “enemy”. Then the week unfolded, and I needed to reconsider.
The very next day, and on the following Wednesday, I came face to face with two people who have treated/currently treat friends of mine from The Dale very, very poorly. One of them is responsible for much of the trauma that one friend has faced, and the other is one in a long line of strangers who has treated another friend with disdain and disrespect. While I knew in my head that these folks were beloveds of God, in those moments I found myself fuming angry and struggling to come up with a compassionate, love-your-enemy response.
And as we all know, these past weeks have also held many horrible events around the globe. Baghdad, Beruit, Paris, Mali… So much violence, so much pain, leading to more violence and more pain. I found myself frustrated by the automatic international reaction to respond to violence with violence… and then was humbled to remember that I couldn’t conjure up much compassion when faced with those I felt to be enemies.
I know that anger is a natural and appropriate response to violent injustice. But how do we move past the anger and simultaneously name injustice and oppression, and love the people who are hurting us or those we love? And how do we look into the faces of our enemies, recognize their humanity, and seek to understand the complex and deep-rooted reasons that they act the way they do?
A really good (and difficult) start is right there in Luke 6:28; “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” I belong to a wonderful Bible Study, and one of the members suggested that we spend our Thursday evening praying for Syrian refugees, and also for people involved in terrorist activity. So we did, and it was good. One of the prayers we prayed can be found here: missioalliance.org/bedtime-prayer-terrorists/
So, Lord help us to take you seriously when you ask us to love our enemies. Have mercy on us all.