Friday, February 14, 2014

Loving my enemy

Photo  by Kate Williams
On Sunday, I was assigned to give the children’s moment at church. Struck with what I thought could only be a shot of 11:30pm-the-night-before inspiration, I conjured up a lesson to go with Valentine’s Day.

I stopped by the dollar store at 10:30am on my way to church the next morning and bought some Valentine lollipops. I talked with the kids about Valentine’s Day and people we love and explained that Jesus calls us to love enemies and strangers and people who are different—not just friends and family. I gave them each two lollipops, one to keep and one to give to someone who is mean to them or someone they don’t know very well.

One kid went straight back to his seat and handed the extra lollipop to his older brother.


Who can internalize the radical enemy-love? While we admire Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, which of us really learns how to truly forgive and love our enemies?

Whenever I read these words from Jesus, my first thought is to skip over them. I don’t have enemies. By grace, I’ve never been hurt by someone in a way I couldn’t forgive. The only personal enemies I can think of today are friends’ exes, and it’s probably better I don’t contact them.

But don’t we all make abstract enemies all the time?

Lately, Facebook and blogs have seemed to blow up with all these controversies—some more substantial than others—from the Grammy weddings to America the Beautiful to Duck Dynasty to the MSNBC/Cheerios commercial fiasco. In socio-political and religious matters, we seem to have reached a new low in discourse, and I am among the guilty. I too easily write off or ridicule viewpoints I don’t agree with.

There are good reasons to stand up for what we believe in. But in general, most of us are probably too quick to judgment, too slow to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

Love is about listening and trying to understand. So today, I have been reading some articles and watching some videos from people who have different viewpoints than I do. I am looking for depth, trying not to waste my time on sound bytes and easy-to-ridicule editorials just for the pleasure of a cheap jab. So far, it has been good. And though I am short on time, I want to make an effort to read or watching something at least once a week by someone with a different perspective—whether theological/religious, political, cultural. I want to listen, to read, to try to understand why people are coming from where they are coming from, why they believe what they believe. I want to try to put myself in my enemy’s shoes.

I need help with this one. What do you think it looks like to love our enemies?

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