Saturday, February 11, 2012

Loving Thy Enemy

I mentioned in my last post that I struggle with the idea of loving thy enemy.  This post will go more in depth about my thoughts about this very issue.  I will use some scripture in a way that will hopefully make sense to you.

Looking scripture on "loving thy enemy," I came across an interesting passage.  It is Matthew 5:43 and it says "You have heard it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.'" (NIV)  With this passage, it seems to contradict what most Christians are taught in the "hate your enemy" part of the verse.  A lot of Christians if not 99 percent of them are taught to love your enemy.  But unfortunately, I am in the one percent that either doesn't love the enemy or struggles with that notion.  Is it natural to hate someone you consider an enemy?  I have always hated an "enemy" of mine.  I find it easier to just hate them rather protrude a loving reaction to them.  Even if someone preaches the opposite of this passage, deep down, most people have someone they hate or have hated.  If they say they never did than who am I to call them out on bullshit?  Nevertheless, this passage seems to define how I think with my struggles.  Just go all out and hate this person.

Matthew 5:44 contradicts the previous verse.  It says "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."  (NIV)  I struggle with praying for someone I hate.  Maybe it is beneficial to pray for change in thy enemy.  But I just can't bring myself to do it.   So I don't pray for an enemy.  I feel like "screw them" and just leave them to their own devices.  That's what happened with this one guy my best friend and I were friends with.  We helped him a lot and we were given nothing in return.  So herself and I left him to his own devices.  He never changed after going to rehab (he is an alcoholic).  He kept doing the same thing he has always done.  So I hate him and could never be a friend to him ever again.  It may not be right in the eyes of some people, but it's been said that you just have to walk away from it all.  I did that and have never looked back.  I don't feel bad for doing it either.  Don't even think about laying a guilt trip on because that is totally childish and lame to even attempt to do so!

Luke 6:27-28 also talks about praying for your enemy among other things.  "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  (NIV)  All these things it says to do in this passage, I find myself not being able to do.  I know there is a point to doing it all, but I can't for the life of me bring myself to do it.  I feel it goes against everything I think about this and that's the struggle.  The struggle to do the good I should be doing versus what I do.  I know it's easy for some people to love thy enemy and do all the things as stated, but it's not so easy for me.  It's a struggle and if you've struggled with this, than you will know exactly where I'm coming from.

I am not necessarily holding grudges per se because I try not to do that.  It's just a flat out hate for my enemy.  This is something I face everyday and it gets no easier.  I can't just one day wake and say I will love thy enemy.  It's not that easy for me.  It will never be that easy.  So don't even try to put a spin on it that it is.  It's not all smoke and mirrors.  It's not all black and white.  There is a big grey area for me.  There will for a long time be a grey area.  Until that day comes when I can love thy enemy, it will be a struggle no matter what I'm told.


Clinton said...

I am pretty sure 99% struggle with loving their enemies. It isn't easy, that's why we have to be told. I can't say I have a lot of enemies, but whenever someone irks me I try to pray for them, even if I'm simply asking God to help them not be such a jerk. It's a start.

Mr. C.C. said...

I can see you getting irked. You don't strike me as a person that just bother to get mad. But I can't pray even just for someone to not be a jerk. I just can't do it.

Mr. C.C. said...

I meant can't.

Clinton said...

You can do it Chris. It is a choice.

I'll pray for you. ;)

Matthew said...

Chris, I can very much relate to what you're saying. Hating our enemies is a very natural, human response. I really appreciate your honesty in expressing this struggle that almost all of humanity has, including myself.

I don't think Jesus' command to love your enemies was in the same vein as saying, "Recycle your plastics," or "Conserve natural resources," or even, "Care for the poor."

What he was pointing to, I believe, was a position that is radically opposite to the way we normally relate to others and to life. I don't know many people who genuinely express this command, let alone who find it EASY to do!

This is a really interesting topic to explore. To me, the challenge is wrestling with - and being open to - the question of whether we can love someone even when we actually feel anger or hatred towards them?

"I can't just one day wake and say I will love thy enemy. It's not that easy for me. It will never be that easy."

I agree, that's unlikely to happen. It may never be that easy. But what if it could be that simple?

I'm not saying it is or it isn't.

I think there's huge potential in just thinking about these questions, without feeling obligated to arrive at any particular answer, one way or the other.

Maybe we can't choose to love when we feel hatred? If that's true then there's no real surprises there.

But what if we can??? For me, that's just a really intriguing possibility.

What do you folks think?

Keep exploring these tough issues, Chris, as I think we all should, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and being open to dialogue:)