The reflection this week and Chris’ post have really been weighing on me this week. This is a topic I have been hearing spoken on at church and writing a lot about for school. As both posts pointed out, Jesus gives this command with Judas fully in mind.
I think one of the most distinct things about being a Christian is the call to love our enemy. Our job is to love the ones who hurt us, who don’t deserve it. We also love those who are marginalized, left-out, forgotten and shunned by most people.
But the real question that has bothered me is this: Why?
Why should I love “those people?” What does it matter if I love my enemy? Why should I love people who take effort to love? These seem to be completely contradictory to human nature, so before I want to put all of that effort in to it, I want to know why.
For a lot of Christians, the answers is:
Because God said so.
And if that works for you, great. You can stop reading now. But if you are like me and you have trouble doing anything without having a good explanation, maybe this statement isn’t as satisfying.
If God tells us to do it, it has to have a reason. But at first glance, this one seems senseless. It is a difficult task and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
But I think the key is in Jesus final words in this:
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
A disciple looks like the one she follows. So this enemy love is supposed to prove what God is really like.
Maybe we start at the wrong point. Maybe the call is not primarily to love our enemy. Maybe our first call is to show what God is like.
But you can’t truly know what God is like until you get the love your enemy stuff figured out.
If we are truly disciples, then how we love and take care of people shows what God is like.
But for many, God is angry and waiting for people to screw up. God is nit-picky and we better get it right or else.
Or God is someone who is largely disinterested in the human race, but shows up long enough on a Sunday morning to see who showed up and if they did it all right.
Or God is someone who is heavily concerned for who is on the right side of a debate. God draws distinct lines of who is worthy and unworthy of love and life. God has certain people God likes and certain people God doesn’t.
Is this really the God we want?
Because at the heart of the gospel, we have a God who is total other – bigger, holier, better, mightier, smarter, separated and transcendent. Yet God breaks down those barriers and stands WITH us.
Even the ones who hate God. Even the ones who betray God. Even the ones who kill God. No one stands outside of this love.
Because God made us. From the cutest, tiniest, newest, pink precious baby to the most horrifying, terrible and cruel mass murderer. God made them both. Loves them both. They both carry God’s image.
In all of our differences, we all have this in common: We are loved, because we are God’s children.
So if our job is to show what God is like, we have to look at people and treat people like God does. We need to drop our barriers and categories and we need to love.
Because that is what God does. And it is our job to show people what God is like.
So this week, as you talk to people at work, as you watch the news, scroll through Twitter, as people annoy and/or hurt you, ask yourself the question:
When I interact with this person, or make this blanket statement about this group…
what am I communicating about God?
I think it just might reframe how we see the world.