Loving enemies? How’s that working for you?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?…”
Recently, we have been confronted in the news with reports of our country justifying the use of torture. In short, we call it something else (enhanced interrogation techniques) and then defend because the end justifies the means. Pastor Rob Bell writes concerning torture, “There’s a debate about this? The issue isn’t just what torture does to the person being tortured, it’s what torturing does to the person doing it. We’re already in trouble when people debate the use of torture as if it’s only about what it does to the enemy. Our own humanity is at stake.”
No doubt, we are in trouble. As Christians who seek to follow in the way of Jesus, I would like to think that we would be bothered by our country’s use of torture, but recent polls suggest otherwise. In a Washington Post/ABC Poll, 69% of white evangelicals supported the use of torture. In contrast, 53% of those who do not identify as religious opposed the use of torture. This is troublesome and a direct reflection on why Millenials want nothing to do with organized religion. How can we better live in the way of Jesus?
From yesterday’s reading, Jesus says that he didn’t come to replace the law, but to fulfill it. Jesus radically transformed from a worldview of retribution and ‘eye for an eye’ ideology by suggesting we change our hearts. Fulfillment of the law is love. He changes the system from retribution to restoration. Love can break the chain of violence. I would suggest we could look at the inverse of the quote above and say, “The issue isn’t just what love does to the person being loved, it’s what love does to the person doing it.” As much as our influence has the capacity to change those around us, the change starts with me.
And then Jesus continues to provide the street credit to this crazy philosophy by loving all the way to a cross. It’s not easy. Perhaps this is why we still wrestle with this as Christians 2000 years later.
I would love to hear from you. Let’s keep on walking.