Loving Our Enemies
The Sunday message on disruptive prayer for enemies centered on the radical and difficult words of Jesus in Luke 6:27-37. Read those words right now. There are 16 instructions (commands) from Jesus about dealing with enemies. Two of them are repeated, so there are 14 different instructions that revolve around loving our enemies and doing good to them. This section ends with the instruction to forgive our enemies.
I closed the message with the words of G.K. Chesterton (a favorite author of C.S. Lewis).
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting (lacking), it has been found difficult and not tried. The Christian ideal on loving enemies has been found difficult and not tried. It is time we start trying it. Start believing it. Start living it. Start praying it. Start desiring it. Start following Jesus, who is our Way, our Truth, and our Life.
And yes, it will be hard. The disciples, on another occasion, complained to Jesus about how hard his teachings were and wondered how it would be possible. Jesus’ response was, “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This includes loving our enemies in the way Jesus did and taught.
What the world is doing about enemies is not working. It has not worked yesterday. It is not working today. It won’t work tomorrow. Enemies (or at least perceived enemies) are growing in number. Groups are more polarized than ever. We are less civil in our interactions than ever. If we keep on doing what we have always done, we will continue to get the same results. It is insanity to think otherwise (Einstein).
The church is embedded in culture. You and I live in the world. The culture of the world is always trying to shape us in its own fallen image. Paul tells us not to be conformed to the way of the world (Romans 12:2). Too many Christians have been conformed, molded, shaped, and remade in the way of the world about enemies. Paul says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Your mind is renewed as you meditate on and pray through Scripture, like Luke 6:27-37. Your heart is softened and healed with regard to your enemies as you ponder passages, like Romans 5:3-11. In that passage we learn about how God was loving, merciful, and gracious toward us when we were ungodly, sinners, and his enemies.
Abraham Lincoln was our president during the time of our nation’s greatest turmoil. We were torn asunder and waging deadly war against ourselves. We were a nation divided and such a divided nation would not stand. Lincoln borrowed that image from Matthew 12:25. Lincoln also had this mindset about enemies.
Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. It was more a statement than a question. I don’t know if Lincoln had the work of Christ on the cross in mind when he said this, but that is exactly what God did through the death of Jesus on the cross. God destroyed his enemies by reconciling them to himself. Enemies became friends of God. Even more, they become children of God, sons and daughters of the Most High. Extraordinary! Beautiful! Mysterious!
These are not the FINAL words about how we deal with those who are enemies, whether real or imagined. But they are the FIRST and FOUNDATIONAL words. If we get these first words wrong, the remaining words about how to deal with enemies will be misused. I’ll tell you more things in the days ahead, but let’s get these FIRST words right.
Tomorrow I will talk about protecting ourselves from those who would hurt us. At strategic times, Jesus took steps to protect himself. So did the Apostle Paul. You can do the same.
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.