Thinking. Love your enemies
I read these famous words of Jesus this morning:
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
It's interesting to turn it around a little. Jesus comes at it from the point of view of the person who has enemies. But how would it be for my enemy if I love him or her?
Having an enemy is a useful thing in life. An enemy is a person on whom we can heap all the blame, all the badness, all the evils that we encounter. "It's her fault, it's his fault, it's because of them," we say. It's what Hitler did to the Jews, it's what different racial groups do to each other. It's even what evangelical Christians do to other groups of evangelical Christians.
My children do this all the time. My sons have invented an almost-imaginary enemy who they blame whenever they are mad with each other. It allows them to unite together without having to face their own part in the blame game.
If the enemy is playing his part, he will equally hate me, and we will have a mutually beneficial (albeit stormy) relationship where I put all my bad feelings onto him, and he puts all his onto me. We happily dehumanise each other, think of each other in stereotypes and never have to acknowledge that we are both people whom God loves. By treading on each other, we make ourselves feel better.
If we love our enemies, we are refusing to lump all our badness onto someone else, so we are taking responsibility for our own faults and admitting that we are equal with our enemies in our failings and humanness.
If we love our enemies, our enemies are unable to dump all their badness onto us because we are not playing the 'enemy' game. We are letting them take responsibility for their faults and failings.
If we love our enemies, we are refusing to take the easy road to feeling good about ourselves in comparison to them. We have to find our good feelings somewhere else. And we are brave in admitting that God loves them as well as us.
If we love our enemies, we are doing good to them. We defuse anger, we wash harsh words away, we let gentleness do its healing work.