Love Your Enemies

After the gym tonight, my friend remarked that she is struggling with loving her opponents. Her professional and personal work requires her to examine the views of others and gauge how each person will view an issue. She has the unique position of feeling like there is a winner and loser in the issues that surround her life. She's not a pastor. This I can tell you. And she's not particularly convinced on the whole God thing, but she jokes to her pastor friend: "You know, love your enemies -- except that I hate to think of them as my enemies."

There are times where I think this friend is more compassionate than I ever will be. And yet, as we began to explore this conversation about enemies, I realized that I didn't have any enemies. There are no particular individuals in my life that I can label as my enemies. I remarked to my friend that you can love someone without liking their actions. Maybe this is what fuels our anger toward them. Maybe this is what makes us believe that they are in fact our enemies -- rather than opponents or even family.

I came home from the gym and lovely dinner conversation to the startling reality of my family. My cell phone was ringing as I unlocked the door. It was my stepmother. She hadn't spoken to my dad about the saga with my brother that has caused me to worry all weekend. They had asked me to call my brother to tell him about a decision they had made. My brother had called me last week to raise the issue first. It has been family ping pong ever since. After the call, there was an angry email in my inbox that required me to make two more phone calls. Suffice it to say that I'm angry with how things have unfolded. I'm not pleased with my actions nor am I happy with the actions of others. And yet, I love these people. I love myself. I love my father, my stepmother and my brother. I love us all. And yet, I hate how we are behaving.

So, who is the enemy here? In my inclusive reading of the Gospel, there is surely more to be said about this enemy. It can't simply be the bad guy. It can't just be the opponent or the ones you don't want to like. Even if we are talking about Jesus against the Roman Empire, what inspiration for a grassroots movement does this enemy create? Perhaps not. Perhaps I'm stretching as this has a clear definition from the Greek word echthrosmeaning:

hated, odious, hateful
hostile, hating, and opposing another
used of men as at enmity with God by their sin
opposing (God) in the mind
a man that is hostile
the hostile one
the one who is the most bitter enemy of the divine government

As I hung up the phone the second time, I remembered what I had told my friend: you can love someone without liking their actions. I'm not sure that this fits into the Greek definition of enemy. In fact, I'm certain that it doesn't fit. And yet, I wonder what Jesus was thinking. Did he really think that it was about "doing good to them ... without expecting anything back" (Luke 5:36)? How can I possibly do anymore? When does this become less of an action and more of an attitude? Is this just another impossible task that Jesus offers us?

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