Tag Archives: love your enemies

Where is the Love?

16 Jan

Love your enemies

On this Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, I have a question for my readers, and that is, “Where is the love?”

I ask this in the context of the upcoming inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the notions of both Imago Dei (we are all made in the image of God) and Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Many of my family and friends are afraid, and for good reasons. Some depend on the Affordable Care Act. Some are LGBTQ. Others are federal government employees who have read of Trump’s want to strip away existing civil service protections. Many are not US born.

On November 17, 1957, King preached at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL, on “Loving Your Enemies.” His words that day have provided me with a lot of food for thought. King said:

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing.

There aren’t many groups Trump hasn’t said evil things about. How do our feelings about Trump’s words square with Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:3-5?

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?

King contended that in order to love our enemy and those that hate us, we must first take a deep look inside ourselves. Next, we must discover the element of good in our enemy, which relates to the notion of Imago Dei, or, we are all made in the image of God. I am not saying any of this is easy, and neither was Jesus. King said:

… within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

I’ve read some people will not pray for the new president. Wow. Just, wow. I can’t imagine my heart ever being hardened to the point where I would not do that. When you do this, you are refusing to pray for someone made in the image of your own God, you are refusing to pray for someone that God loves. You have yet to find the purest form of love; not romantic love, not eros, not philia, but agape. Agape is to love someone because God loves them.

Where is the love?

Easy to Love

17 Feb

you’d be so easy to love
so easy to idolize all others above
so worth the yearning for
so swell to keep every home fire burning for
and we would be so grand at the game
carefree together that it does seem a shame
that you can’t see your future with me
cause you’d be, oh, so easy to love
1936 – Cole Porter

Image

Let’s be honest. Even those we find the most loveable – our children, our spouse, our close friends – can sometimes do things to hurt us and make us wonder why we love them like we do. Love can hurt. So, what are we to make of the Biblical imperative to love our enemies? Our enemies?

Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (NRSV)

One of the best ways to be able to love your enemies is to not have any.

Seeing another as a foe gives all the power to that person. Surrendering the hurt, salving the wound, moving onward and upward, is spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier. It can take time. It should take time.

Few among us have true enemies – a neighbor who is harassing us, an ex who is stalking us, a supervisor bent on preventing us from earning a living. Many of us have perceived enemies. Just because someone does not agree with you politically does not mean that person is necessarily your enemy. Just because you are no longer married to someone does not necessarily mean that person is your enemy.

Another word for enemy may be “other.” It is easy to love those like us. It is easy to love the familiar. It is more difficult to love the other – those not like us. Those who do not think like us. Those who do not live like us. Those who do not vote like us. Those who do not worship like us (or who do not worship at all).

If we are all made in the image of the Holy, how can we do anything but love one another?

We must learn to forgive ourselves and we must spread this forgiveness to others.

Hate, like envy, is counterproductive.

When faced with an adversary, I first try to determine where the person is coming from. Is it from a place of hurt? Of anger? Of ignorance? Next I try to depersonalize the situation. It is probably not about me per se; I just happen to be there. I listen before I speak. When you are listening, you are not thinking about what you are going to say. I try to find places of common ground. I ask questions to find out why the person believes what they believe. Is it due to some personal experience? Is this what they were taught?

If, after all this, we are still miles apart in whatever it is that makes us adversaries, that may be where we stay. That does not mean we need depart in a place of hate, however.

I am not naïve, nor have I been spared from some really nasty people, yet I do not hate anyone. To do so would be to remain a captive of those who have hurt me. I am not captive; I am FREE.

Dear Holy Mother & Father,

We know not everyone will be for us all the time. Help us recognize this and work together with those with whom we hold differences. Let us see the holy in one another. Help us love ourselves and forgive ourselves and help us love and forgive others.

Amen.

This post is part of the February Synchroblog: Loving Our Enemies. Please visit these other posts:

The Sweet Bi and Bi

musings of a bisexual christian

Religious Refuse

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kathy escobar.

love. mercy. justice.

Blog – knightopia.com | the online home of Steve Knight

The intersection of dogma and reality.

Dan J. Brennan

The intersection of dogma and reality.

Brian McLaren EMC

The intersection of dogma and reality.

Matthew Paul Turner

The intersection of dogma and reality.

Rachel Held Evans - blog

The intersection of dogma and reality.

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