love your enemy (and fellow drivers)


Category : God, different, love, taking action


What if we’re supposed to love our enemies not for their sake, but for ours? I’ve always wondered exactly why we are to love our enemies. In my mind it was because loving them showed them that God was different. And praying for them would allow God to enter their lives – as if he needed our permission.

But what if I have that backwards? What if the biggest reason we are to love our enemies is to keep us moving in the direction of God?

Undoubtedly there is a real need to love our enemies for their sake. God is not into forced behavioral changes, he wants people to change because we desire to know him. The only way to accomplish this kind of change is through love.

But the more I’ve actually tried loving my “enemies” the more I’m convinced God is working more in me than these other people. Now I admit, my life is filled with very few “enemies” and certainly no one who is out to do bodily harm. But it is filled with people who irritate me and people who treat me without respect.

I can’t say for sure why I started doing this, but one day after being cut off in traffic (for the umpteenth time) I started praying for the drivers. To be sure my prayers were often crowded by thoughts like “police officer” and “speeding ticket”. But I really worked at praying for every maniacal lunatic in a 4-wheel death trap driver that would threaten me with their driving. I didn’t want to pray generically for each one (although sometimes I do). I wanted to ask God to bless something meaningful in each of their lives. I wanted to reach out and try to find something that might really mean something to them.

That’s when this realization started to dawn on me – what if prayer for our “enemies” isn’t so much about them as it is about us?

God is a God of relationship. He wants us to have a relationship with him. Anything that furthers that relationship is good, anything that distances us from that relationship is bad. That is why loving our enemies is so important. When I get angry, and don’t love people I become less open to God. I stop wanting to listen to him and to talk to him. As the Bible says my heart “hardens.”

Strangely I found that praying for people who anger me or who cut me off in traffic prevents this very thing. While I often hate saying those prayers, and many times they feel forced, the result is taking a step closer to God instead of a step away. And with each step closer I become more open to what he wants to do in my life.

Jesus tells us to “shake the dust off [our] feet” when we’re rejected (Luke 9:5). He wants us to forget about our rejection and not let it become part of who we are. He’s warning us to not let others’ opinions and reactions form the basis of our self-worth.

Praying for my enemies is how I shake that dust off.

Comments (4)

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