Is there anything harder than loving our enemies?
If there is, I don’t know what it would be. And frankly I’m not sure I want to know!
Until recently I have never had anyone I considered to be an enemy. Sure there were people I didn’t like. There were even people I found annoying. And of course there were people who I didn’t trust. But never anyone who has actively worked against me.
The one thing about living out a life of faith is that there is always more to learn. God always has a way of giving us new homework. Despite all of my study, all of my understanding of who God is, and what Jesus taught, I find I am really struggling with loving my enemies. I would much rather destroy my enemies. Or at the very least, make them look foolish.
But that’s not where Jesus is. That’s not what God wants.
The book that drives this home to me is Jeremiah. Now Jeremiah was just a normal guy. He could easily be you or me. Yet God called him to a unique mission. And for much of his life he went around telling Israel they were about to be destroyed. Talk about a crummy job description!
His life was in constant danger. He was beaten. Arrested. Harassed. And suffered an isolation that very few of us can understand. To say the man made some enemies would be an understatement. Yet he kept working at it. He never gave up. Despite his enemies, he never stopped moving towards God.
I have a hard time relating to that.
But when I look at it in light of who Jesus was, it makes more sense. Jesus calls us to lead a counter-cultural life. He wants us to be radical, revolutionary, and most importantly different. (That’s why you see that phrase associated with R3.)
To prove this point, in his first public declaration of his mission, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Man that’s not what I want to hear. I want to hear “Blessed are those with bigger baseball bats, because they will win.” Or “Blessed are those who are quick witted, because they will make their opponents look dumb.” That’s not where Jesus goes though. He takes a different path. A radical path.
If I’m honest, part of why loving your enemies is so hard is a lack of trust. I simply don’t trust that God will take care of things. I don’t trust him to be the arbiter of justice. I think he needs my help.
Now I don’t think this consciously. (Well until now). But that’s how I behave. I act as if I’m saying, “God, look I know you created the universe and can perform miracles. But clearly you’re a bit out matched here…why don’t you let me handle this one.”
If I am to live a life of faith, I need to get with the game. To focus on these revolutionary teachings. To learn to really trust God when it’s all on the line. At times that feels impossible. As it did to Jeremiah. But Jeremiah found a way to trust God. And so can I.
I don’t like having enemies. But sometimes that can’t be helped. So instead of focusing on complaining, I am going to focus on trusting God.
I want to become more like Jeremiah.