We all know Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” but did he mean it? That’s the big question. If you say, “Yes, of course, Jesus meant it,” then it makes sense that the followers of Jesus would (I’m stepping out on a limb here) love our enemies. Moreover, if followers of Jesus loved their enemies then those enemies wouldn’t be enemies, at least not for long. Love disarms hate. If I love them; work for their good; pray for their well-being, then I’m not behaving like an enemy but a friend.
I’m not totally naïve (just in case you are about to make such an accusation). Our former enemies might still consider us enemies. In fact, they might hate us; say and post hurtful things; and be divisive. But Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies as long as they reciprocate.” If our haters see us continue to love while they are still hating, then eventually they might conclude that we aren’t their enemy. Or maybe they will still hate. I can’t control them, only me. But as I refuse to hate (you can’t spew hate and love someone too); stop lobbing mud (you can’t throw mud at someone you love); and am kind (love is kind, 1 Corinthians 13:4); then something changes. That something is me. I can’t view them as the enemy any longer.
In case you are wondering, “loving” does not equal “agreeing with.” I can love someone and not agree with their life choices. But in our disagreement, we don’t have to be disagreeable. Disagreeing does not mean disrespecting. Love does not dishonor others (1 Corinthians 13:5).
How this plays out in the real world goes against the mistaken notion that everything in life has to be “Us vs. Them.” When social media blows up between Christians and others engaging in back and forth yapping, then the hate continues and enemies are still enemies. Following the “Love your enemy” command means you can’t participate in a conversation like this:
“I hate you.”
“No, I hate you.”
“You are bad.”
“You are worse.”
“Blah, blah, blah…”
If you don’t think such banter exists (on a much more complicated and wordy level) then you haven’t spent much time on social media lately (congratulations for that, by the way). Malicious speech among all sides happens all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.
If love disarms hate, and If I am loving then…
LBGTQ people aren’t my enemy.
Immigrants aren’t my enemy.
Liberals aren’t my enemy.
Conservatives aren’t my enemy.
Other religion adherents aren’t my enemies.
Atheists aren’t my enemies.
Abortion rights advocates are not my enemy.
Pro-Life picket sign holders are not my enemy.
Democrats are not my enemy.
Republicans are not my enemy.
But Ohio State Buckeyes are still my enemy! Just kidding, even Buckeyes are not my enemy. Our Enemy is the Evil one. That’s it. When we engage in hate toward our enemies, he wins. When we love our enemies, he loses. Simple. Let’s not let our true Enemy win. Instead, let’s do what Jesus said to do: In both our actions and attitudes, love our enemies (He really said it and he really means it).