You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.
[With these words Jesus continues to teach about the Law of Moses as the Sermon on the Mount continues. He takes some of the most important topics and explains to his disciples, in specific terms, what it means to be “more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires” (See Day 23)].
Unlike some of the other scriptures in the Sermon on the Mount, the first sentence is NOT a reference to the Law of Moses. God never tells us to hate our enemies. We aren’t created to hate each other; we are created to love. But love our enemies? Isn’t that an oxymoron? If you love them they are not enemies anymore, right?
If we go back to the beatitudes Jesus says “Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children.” (See Day 13). Also remember how he feels about anger (See Day 24). God doesn’t want us to have enemies. That’s why he tells us to pray for them, even those who actively persecute us. When we pray God shows you how it looks through your enemy’s eyes. At least that’s what happens to me in my experience. It’s hard to keep looking at someone as an enemy once God takes you into their heart. Usually if you look into a persecutor’s heart you see a broken person.
I know that when I was younger I felt I had an enemy here and there, but the older I get the less sense it makes. I don’t think I have any enemies right now.
Enmity generally doesn’t stand the test of time. The bullies who taunted me on the school bus when I was a little girl are all grown up now and are nice people. I have no idea where the girl in who tried to steal my High School boyfriend is; same for the girl who kept sleeping with my first husband. Both the girls and the guys involved are off the radar and it all seems so silly now. The people who were responsible for starting and escalating the Vietnam War have all retired from politics and in the warm glow of history are pretty universally respected for their contributions. I was pretty worked up about them at one time. The sexist people who tried to hold me back at my workplace didn’t succeed; I eventually advanced, made a lot of money, got an office with a window and received high praise from some very credible people. The boss who tried to rape me on my first business trip died a year later of alcohol-related illness. It’s all water under the bridge now. When I married John a few people at his church were very mean to me, but most of them have passed on and I remember them fondly. There were some racists in the church that I felt were my enemies at the time, but they just couldn’t handle change. As I get older I’m more sensitive to that than I was when I was young and busy trying to set the world on fire. Sometimes strangers harmed me, stole from me, or threatened me when I lived in Chicago but it was a long time ago and they probably couldn’t help themselves. I’ve been through inner healing ministry and forgiven them all, and forgiven myself as well because in the end I was my own worst enemy. None of it matters anymore so I might as well love them all. Those who are alive have my best wishes and as for those who are dead, may they rest in peace.
I saw a TV commercial this week for a new series called White Lightning about the Hatfields and the McCoys. These two families were the worst kind of enemies and carried on America’s most famous blood feud in the 1800s. Today the feud is over and while they still aren’t the best of friends, they are friendly enough to collaborate on this reality TV show that shows them setting up a new moonshine business. Even the most famous enemies in the history of our country can’t keep it up forever, especially when there are economic incentives for reconciliation.
They say that time heals all wounds, and I guess it also phases out all enemies. Prayer certainly helps. When I pray, God heals me and affirms my enemies. I get insights about them. It’s not all black and white. All those enemies in my past had their own struggles. I had my own struggles and insecurities and I certainly contributed to many of my own problems. 20/20 hindsight. No prize for that.
I hope that going forward I don’t make any new enemies. It’s a waste of time because it accomplishes nothing. I haven’t had one in a long time. When I get angry I don’t blame it on other people. It’s my own problem. Nothing should make me angry. God says he hates anger (See Day 24). I want to have a warm heart that is open and understanding not a cold heart that puts up walls and shuts people out. If someone insults me, I have to let it go. If someone blocks my path I just wait for them to move. But if for some reason enmity rears its ugly head again, I will pray for my enemy, for myself, and for the whole world as well. Yes, I will just keep praying until I feel the love that flows from the heart of God.
What does this scripture say to you?