Wednesday, November 10, 2004

enemy lovers

Often when we speak of love it is in terms of a romantic relationship. As we near the Christmas season and Thanksgiving holiday, the idea of love often makes us reflect upon warm memories of friends and family. Yet, as Christians, Jesus calls us to love our enemies.

Its easy enough to say, "love your enemies," but nearly impossible for most of us to do. Jesus loved his enemies. God loved us when we were his enemies in sin. But how in the world do we as Christians living in 2004 (soon to be 2005) love our enemies?

I guess we must first ask who are our enemies. I believe there are multiple layers of enemies in our lives. Most of us would say that we don't "hate" anyone necessarily. But on the geopolitical level, "terrorists" are often seen as our enemies. The other political party is seen as the enemy. The family member or former friend that you no longer talk to may be an enemy. And the sort of "mini-enemies" are all around us. The driver who cuts you off in traffic. The bills that pile up month after month. Even our own selves function as an enemy in our lives.

Some of these enemies are easier to love than others. So let me focus on just one for the moment. How do we love the people that are anointed with the title "terrorist?" How do we love them in our hearts and show them love through action? Is there a good way that an American Christian can love an Iraqi Arab who beheads our soldiers? Is there a good way for an Israeli Christian to love a Palestinian Muslim who is a member of Hamas?

In theory we can conjure up pseudo-emotions of compassion and sympathy for these people. But if DC Talk was right, if love really is a verb, then how do we do it? My initial mental picture is a room full of grey hairs who are knitting blankets in their Sunday School room for bombers who get cold the night before the day of their destruction. Is it a class full of 5th graders writing Valentine's cards to the swordsmen who are so proud of their decapitations?

Love your enemies? Sure, I will get right on that.


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