Love your enemies?
We first need to recognize who we consider an enemy? Really, who are our enemies? If we are at war than it is easier to see an understand an "enemy" but when one is not fighting do enemies still exist?
I know people who, even though they profess to be Christians, have anger towards Muslims. It is true that radical Muslims have attacked us as a country, but not all Muslims are radical and God calls us to love our enemies. If we do not love them, are we sinning?
What about homosexuals? God speaks of their abomination in the Old Testament. Look at Sodom & Gomorrah. In fact, wouldn't it be easier to let them just go die in a hole somewhere? Are they the enemy? Do you not know that they are also sons and daughters of men and women? Do you not know that their heavenly Father loves them just as much as he loves you?
They are worthy of God's love.
They are worthy of your love.
What about the parent who was not a good parent. You were hungry for affection from a father that only cared for his bottle of booze. Or maybe he was a workaholic? Maybe your mother loved your sister more than you...
Who is your enemy?
Is it your neighbor that you have argued with continually? Is it the turd at the grocery store that looks at you funny? Is it the person who has offended your spirit? Maybe it is that girl from high school that really cut you deeply with her words or actions...or that ex-boyfriend who told you - you were not good enough.
They are out there.
Who are they?
People that believe a lie.
And now...so do you.
* A great stroy from Bart Campolo that he picked up on a visit to Philadelphia last week, which was first told to psychologist Jack Kornfield by the director of a nearby rehabilitation program for violent juvenile offenders:
One 14-year-old boy in the program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.
After the first half-year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor (in jail) he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step-by-step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts.
Near the end of his three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home. For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job.
Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?” “I sure do,” he replied. “I’ll never forget that moment.” “Well, I did it,” she went on. “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and let you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here. I’ve got room and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.” And she became the mother he never had.
I don't know if this woman is a follower of Jesus but she sure challenges me to live like her - with grace and mercy! Her response to the murderer of her son, having him live under her same roof, providing for his needs and eventually adopting him, is astounding. Her idea of killing people is profound - kill off their old hardened, hurting, self through unconditional love - is exactly what Jesus wants us to do.
Another form of love your enemies?
Do you remember the story of the Amish schoolhouse? In October 2006 Charles Robert IV went into a school house in Lancaster, PA and shot 10 girls (6-13), killing 5, and committed suicide.
"Roberts and the boys carried lumber, a shotgun, a stun-gun, wires, chains, nails, tools and a small bag. Also brought into the classroom was a length of wooden board with multiple sets of metal eye-hooks. The contents of the bag included a change of clothes, toilet paper, candles, and flexible plastic ties. Using wooden boards, Roberts barricaded the front door."
"Shortly before Roberts opened fire, two sisters, Marian and Barbie Fisher, 13 and 11, requested that they be shot first that the others might be spared. Barbie was wounded, while her older sister was killed. A child's loud screaming was heard from within the school."
"Reports stated that most of the girls were shot "execution-style" in the back of the head." "Inside the school, Ballenger said, "there was not one desk, not one chair, in the whole schoolroom that was not splattered with either blood or glass. There were bullet holes everywhere, everywhere."
"On the day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls was heard warning some young relatives not to hate the killer, saying, "We must not think evil of this man." Another Amish father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God."
"A Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Amish community members visited and comforted Roberts' widow, parents, and parents-in-law. One Amish man held Roberts' sobbing father in his arms, reportedly for as long as an hour, to comfort him. The Amish have also set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter. About 30 members of the Amish community attended Roberts' funeral, and Marie Roberts, the widow of the killer, was one of the few outsiders invited to the funeral of one of the victims."
You see - these men and women knew what it took to love your enemy. Do you?
Walk a mile.
Trust the Lord.
He is Righteous.
He is the Judge.
You see, those that we create hate for are those that believed a lie. We have all been deceived but as Christ-followers it is our job to open our eyes and distinguish the truth from the lies.
What we listen to.
What we say.
What we feel.
2 Corinthians 3-5 "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Pray for our enemies. Pray that how we think and feel about those people soften so that we can LOVE them.
"Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us." Matthew 6:12