Most of us don’t like people that give us a dirty look let alone loving those that seem to be working strongly against us. Yet the command stays the same. Love your enemy. I get it, I really do. This isn’t easy. No one wants to do this. Most of us by now have been able to escape this way of living by justifying what love is and by justifying what an enemy is. We hear it everywhere. I just don’t like that person. That person is annoying. Well, I don’t have to be friends with everyone. That person wants me to fail. We have nothing in common. I have to protect my children from their children. We’re just going in different directions. They are rude. They are always against everything. They are crazy!
These are generally excuses we make when explaining why we don’t like someone or don’t want to hang out with them. Unfortunately, all the things that are mentioned are pre-requisites to love the person according to Jesus. I know for sure that love doesn’t mean shallow “hello, how are you conversation” in the mall. Then we pat ourselves on the back for going out of our way to be nice. I know for sure that love means that yes, you do have to be friends, and you do have to spend time with them. The whole idea of protecting our social life by not being around those that are draining and annoying is probably the hardest thing to fight against. For some reason we feel entitled to pick our friends, pick every circumstance we are in and pick the style of people we spend all our time with. Our picks of course are generally centered around people we like, people that get us and people that think the same way as us: the exact definition of someone who is not our enemy.
I don’t really have any suggestions to fix this. It is broken though. Maybe disciplining ourselves to spend time with our “enemy” once a week. You know, take them out for a coffee, invite them over for dinner. Oops, I didn’t mean to mention that. It sort of made me feel uncomfortable thinking about all those situations where I am inviting the people over I can’t stand the most and we and my wife sitting there trying to be loving. Seems awfully forced and awkward. I can see the excuses coming up already. I really believe this stuff though, I just don’t want to. To really change the world and spread this gospel the way Jesus did, that means spending time with people that we don’t want to spend time with. The goal obviously is that we start to see ourselves in the other and we connect and begin to love others because they are human, and we are human. Jesus doesn’t want us to love our enemy to torture us, he wants us to love our enemy because they are us.
This obviously isn’t a rule or a command that we must do. That isn’t the point. Loving your enemy is a prerequisite to experiencing the gospel. It gives you an opportunity to die to yourself. See yourself in your enemy. See what God was up to. Love someone who isn’t like you. If we want to be Christians, if we really want to follow Christ then we need to make decisions to intentionally do these things as a community of people living out kingdom values. If the world is going to change, it won’t be because a bunch of Christians annoyed all the annoying and crazy people. We can’t just think good thoughts about them. We need to be proactive and reach out and love our enemy. If we are going to work alongside of God and his redemption of all things, going out of our way to love people that we are inclined to hate is the first step.