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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