Enemy Love

by

Matthew 5:43-45:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons 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.

One thing that i’ve never understood is how am I supposed to love my enemies when I don’t have any? I don’t mean to suggest everyone loves me, certainly not the case. But, I cannot say that I’ve ever had an enemy or rival who I genuinely loathe. On the surface, this should suggest that I am sensitive, patient, and generous person. However, I’m starting to suspect something’s wrong with this picture. It reminds me of people who think the Holy Spirit’s working in a church based on how quickly the church is growing. I suspect that if the Gospel were truly preached everyone in his right mind would leave. Likewise, is the Gospel an offense or not? If all Jesus of Nazareth came to teach us was to love and tolerate one another while making sure not to offend, how is his message any different from the modern day wisdom of liberal tolerance? As much as liberal Protestantism wants to paint Jesus in this light, we have to dig deeper.

Back to not having enemies. Maybe if I actually bothered enacting the things I claimed to believe, people would honestly dislike me. Why? I believe because the Gospel is uncomfortable, challenging, and demanding. Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies because he knew the ministry he was forming would piss many people off (the state, the religious authorities, his own family). Remember Jesus’ apocalyptic words in Mark 13:13, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” So, why don’t Christians have more enemies? Why is that non-religious people often use the word Christian as a synonym for nice? “Steve, you shouldn’t hit the dog that’s not a very Christian thing to do”. Since, when did the word Christian come to mean nice?

As an exercise I would encourage everyone to read the Gospel of Mark all the way through. Listen to the words of Jesus. He never strikes me as nice. Fair, just, and clever, but nice? He would have his enemies because the importance of announcing the coming Reign of God trumped adherence to religious norms, familial expectations, and societal rules. Everyone goes on and on about the Love of God. I don’t mind love, but as long as we can move away from associating the word love and nice. The love of Jesus of Nazareth is a love too terrible to speak of.

So maybe next time we read these verses, we should consider failed chances when missed out on opportunities to make enemies. Again, I’m not saying we all go around being assholes. I ardently believe that if we began living as Jesus commanded enemies would emerge because the threat the Gospel poses.. Never forget Jesus didn’t die so we could be reconciled to God, he died because the state hated him (not the Jews, sorry Mel).

In summary: Jesus said in Matthew 7:20.”Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” That is to say if we truly live out the Gospel I suspect that some secondary fruits that will grow will be the animosity of others.

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