Love Your Enemies

There is a certain woman who interacts with me in a way that results in my feeling as if she has shoved me into a corner with her arm pushed up against my neck, threatening bodily harm if I don’t do what she wants. My feeling is irrational, but it makes me think about Jesus’ call to us to love our enemies.

How can I love this woman!? Much less a real enemy–someone who threatens my very existence and what I value most dearly. My first reaction is to find a way to strike back.

Jesus tells us that anyone can love those who love them. He seems to see that kind of love as simply natural (See Matthew 5: 43-48). Yet for Jesus, something different has become possible for those to whom he speaks. Some people read this injunction and give up on being able to follow the teachings of Jesus, or decide that this passage is one to ignore. But I find the charge an invitation to consider what, at least at first, doesn’t seem possible.

When I can know myself inwardly as loved and acceptable (that is, find myself grounded in God), then I can allow the other person to be who she is. I recognize my own fears and shortcomings. I feel compassion. I let her carry herself the way she wants to, and I respond without having my response be determined by how she’s acted toward me. I calmly provide the information she asks for and let the results be what they are.

Queries:

Who do you see as threatening your existence or what you value? What is weakness and what is power in the face of threat from an enemy? (What are you called to in response to the killing in Charleston?)

How does being in Christ change how you can respond to an enemy?

Prayer:

“Pray for those who persecute you.” Holding the person or situation in your heart, with your eyes closed and using your imagination, or by writing in a journal, ask to be given insight about your reaction and what door would open you to love.

For further reflection:

“Love your enemies . . .” (See Luke 6: 27-36).

“Do not fret because of the wicked . . .” (See Psalm 37: 1-8).

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3 thoughts on “Love Your Enemies

  1. Such a hard thing! Having been privileged to live a life of physical safety, I can only imagine what it must be like, for instance, for the Palestinians and the Israelis to try to “love” each other. However, I have been in situations where I felt emotionally and psychologically unsafe– threatened, belittled, humiliated. It exacts a terrible toll. Finally I had to move out of that situation, but even now I find myself wrangling with what it means for me. And how can I “love” the person who treated me that way?

    I do find it a bit easier by praying FOR that person. I hold them in the Light. Sometimes that helps me understand that she must have had experiences that molded her into what she is, and I can pray for her healing. And what about the man who shot the parishioners in Charleston? I pray that he will be safe, and that he will find healing from whatever torments him so much that he felt the need to murder people to ease his own pain. I cannot at all understand where that anger and hatred comes from. Sometimes the Metta prayer is helpful:

    May I be filled with loving-kindness.
    May I be free from suffering and the roots of all suffering.
    May I be filled with joy.
    May I be at peace.

    and then I repeat the prayer, for someone I love, for someone I fear or consider an enemy, and for all beings. If nothing else, the pray changes *me*, and allows me to center and feel the presence of God.

    Like

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