Author’s Note: Yet another newsletter submission for my church. Please feel free to skip it if religion isn’t your thing.
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. —-Luke 6:35-36
Love your enemies. This has to be the most complicated teaching of the Bible, and yet it is the most essential part of living a wholly Christian life. It is also a commandment that raises difficult questions: how are we supposed to love those who torment us? Don’t we have the right to defend ourselves? God doesn’t intend for us to become doormats when we are mistreated, and He doesn’t mean we have to welcome our enemies into our lives with open arms. Instead, he gives us the opportunity to reflect His light by choosing to turn away from paths that will lead us to evil. Recently, a mother in California was arrested after she physically assaulted a twelve year old whom she believed had bullied her daughter. To make matters worse, she may have attacked an innocent child that had nothing to do with it. As parents, we can understand and sympathize with her anger and desire to protect her child, but as Christians we know that nothing good can come from retaliation. Jesus taught us to “turn the other cheek”, and if we don’t, hatred and conflict can poison us and lead us to sinful actions. When we succumb to the temptation to strike out at our foes, we are making ourselves no better than they are, and we imprison ourselves in hatred. By praying for our enemies and giving them the respect they have failed to give us, we find freedom and renew our relationship with God. In the end, loving our enemies is less about them, and more about loving ourselves enough to trust that God loves us and will help us through the darkness.