I was going through Facebook and clicking on the button marked, “Add Friend”. As I’m clicking away, a funny thought ran through my head. What if there were similar buttons marked, “Add Enemy”? Well, no one would click that, of course. But I continued with the concept and wondered, who is my enemy? What would our definition of an enemy be? Sure, the natural definition would be someone who is against me. But then we add more to the mix and our enemies become people who vote differently from me, look different, people who like things I don’t like, people who believe different than I do, and the list can go on.
Every one of us has issues. All of us are prejudice to some degree. There’s always going to be a group of people or someone we really don’t like. And I’m not talking about mimes either. We know who it is we’re not interested in being around and we make sure we don’t click the “Add Enemy” button to stay away. But sometimes, we find ourselves in some sort of communication, whether it’s written or face to face, and our blood pressure rises. And then we react or act out. Hopefully it’s not on video.
God, in his infinite wisdom, knows we create our own enemies. Because believe it or not, those groups of people need to eat and breath and brush their teeth just like us. Ideas, moral beliefs and ways of living are the only thing that separates all of us. And so God, being the ever-present loving Father, drops a bomb on the high moral pride of our self-righteousness and tells his kids, “Love your enemies.” But God! Are you kidding me? They’re with that other political party, I can’t show my love towards them! But God, they don’t even speak my language, are you serious? But God, they’re walking around with rainbow flags, how can you possibly ask me to love those people? Oh yes. I forgot to mention an important point. God is not asking. This is a command. None of what he says is ever a suggestion. In the truest definition, love is an action. God commands us to love in action, not just word. It wouldn’t have been enough for the good Samaritan to have expressed his well wishes to the traveler who was left for dead. “I hope you wake up and feel better, strange person! That’s a nasty cut on your head, you need to get that checked, not by me, but someone else of course! Have to go now, good-bye and well wishes!”
Curiously enough, all of humanity were God’s enemies (Romans 5:10) once. And he didn’t send his well-wishes to us, hoping things pick up in our predicament of being lost. “Hope everything works out with that whole sanctification thing!” No. He acted out his love and sent his only son to be born as a wet, sloppy infant laying in a place where animals eat hay and alfalfa. To grow up in a region of the world where there’s always been strife and his people surrounded by enemies. To bring hope to a dark world. To teach us there’s a better way to live. To bring freedom to those in captivity. To die in our place, so we could know the love of God AND to bring this love to everyone we meet. To bring this love to who? Just to those with similar ideals as me? Nope. Say it with me, out loud so the neighbors can hear it: Everyone!
Let me give you an excellent example of showing love to your enemies.
Miles McPherson is a pastor of The Rock Church, in San Diego. The building is in a really nice part of town and has about 20k members. As such, huge churches are usually the target of protests and the like. During Gay Pride week, a group of people brought a really big rainbow flag and held it up across the street to display what they believe in and protest the Rock Church. Opposing beliefs, yes? The church and homosexuals have always seen things differently, yes? Would these two opposing parties qualify as enemies? Pastor Miles is watching them hold their flag up and listening to their chants. But he also sees something that needs attention and he acts out on two of Jesus’ commands: “Love your enemies” and “do to others as you would have them do to you”. He notices the people with the flag are having trouble holding their flag up. It was getting windy and they didn’t bring enough people. If you’re a Christian, what would your reaction here be? “Haha!” or “Praise God, it looks like they’ll leave soon!”
His reaction was this: Get some of our people together and help them out.
Love is an action. This pastor acted on it. But he wasn’t through. Eventually, the sun came out and it became hot. One the Christians (helping people who held opposing views by waving a huge rainbow flag, by the way!) called the pastor and mentioned their group didn’t bring water and they were getting thirsty. Did the pastor respond with, “Haha!” or “Praise God, it looks like they’ll leave soon!” Nope! Pastor Miles sent cases of ice and bottles of water.
Love is an action. Loving your enemies need to be an action, not a concept. We need to think of this command next time we run into our “enemies”. And believe me, Jesus will make it happen again and again and again until we resemble the love we’re carrying and not the hate we hold on to.