Loving Your Enemies
Did you happen to notice, being conscious and walking around in the world, that civility between groups with differing opinions or perspectives or philosophies or religions has ebbed quite a bit in recent years? That’s kinda rhetorical, yes you have noticed. Mostly, it’s been replaced with overt distrust, or even disgust and/or combativeness leaning towards hostility. It’s a sorry state for just about everybody except those who thrive on conflict.
Today I’d like to remind those who might call themselves servants of Yehovah or followers of Yeshua about loving your enemies, an important teaching from the sermon on the mount, as it is called. We’re not supposed to hate anybody, even in our hearts – even if we keep it to ourselves. Right?
Internal Conflict Leading to Divine Revelation
For the last couple of days, I’ve been watching many testimonials of individuals who were as raised devout Muslims, jihadists, and even one Iranian who was an early builder of Hezbollah in Lebanon and worked with Khomeini when he came to power in the late 70’s. Their stories are strikingly similar, to a person. Same influences, same early confusion followed by internal conflict and the seeds of doubt in the claims of Islam, which was all they had ever known. Very devout servants of Allah, highly respectful of their prophet, keen to honor their imams who taught them the path.
But once this doubt, brought by internal conflict, had established itself in their mind (which is forbidden in Islam: to doubt anything), their continued searching led to a cascade of hard realizations. Those led invariably (in these testimonies) to a rejection of the cold, hard, angry, fearful precepts of the Quran and Allah, to a tentative reaching out to Yeshua (leaving all they had known), and to a FLOOD of peace, love, joy, and trust in the Creator in a way that was utterly foreign to any Muslim.
Also very VERY prominent in these testimonies were dreams or visitations from the Light, saying “This is the way, go in it,” more or less. And for the first time since they could remember, they were HAPPY, full of great joy. Being well-practiced in total devotion to the god they were seeking to know and please, fruitlessly, they are some of the most on-fire believers on the planet, putting fat, content American church Christians to shame.
And what was the spark that led each one of these Muslims out of the dark? Love: the genuine love and concern of Christians who reached out to them with affection, sincerity, and consistency in obedience to the gospel of Messiah. It was the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and the self-control to let the process take as long as it would take.
The love of Christians for Muslims who hated them and would sometimes even beat them or desire to kill them, won out over hatred, through the power of God. Testimony after testimony, the same thing happened over and over.
Loving YOUR Enemies
Now imagine that you are feeling distrust or contempt or hostility to whomever you consider to be enemies of yourself, or to rightness, or even to the Living God. Caught up in the times, swept away by the spirit of division threatening the actual fabric of our country, and the world. This cannot be our path, brothers. It MUST include loving your enemies. Love is what conquers, not clever words or trying to win a debate. Love conquered all, just about 2,000 years back. BE love, here, because we ARE it. We are the last line of defense. Give as has been given you.
“Ye heard that it was said: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth; 39 but I — I say to you, not to resist the evil, but whoever shall slap thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other; 40 and whoever is willing to take thee to law, and thy coat to take — suffer to him also the cloak. 41 ‘And whoever shall impress thee one mile, go with him two, 42 to him who is asking of thee be giving, and him who is willing to borrow from thee thou mayest not turn away. 43 ‘Ye heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and shalt hate thine enemy; 44 but I — I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you, 45 that ye may be sons of your Father in the heavens, because His sun He doth cause to rise on evil and good, and He doth send rain on righteous and unrighteous. 46 ‘For, if ye may love those loving you, what reward have ye? do not also the tax-gatherers the same? 47 and if ye may salute your brethren only, what do ye abundant? do not also the tax-gatherers so? 48 ye shall therefore be perfect, as your Father who [is] in the heavens is perfect.”
27 But I say to you who are hearing, Love your enemies, do good to those hating you, 28 bless those cursing you, and pray for those accusing you falsely; 29 and to him smiting thee upon the cheek, give also the other, and from him taking away from thee the mantle, also the coat thou mayest not keep back. 30 ‘And to every one who is asking of thee, be giving; and from him who is taking away thy goods, be not asking again; 31 and as ye wish that men may do to you, do ye also to them in like manner; 32 and — if ye love those loving you, what grace have ye? for also the sinful love those loving them; 33 and if ye do good to those doing good to you, what grace have ye? for also the sinful do the same; 34 and if ye lend [to those] of whom ye hope to receive back, what grace have ye? for also the sinful lend to sinners — that they may receive again as much. 35 ‘But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward will be great, and ye shall be sons of the Highest, because He is kind unto the ungracious and evil; 36 be ye therefore merciful, as also your Father is merciful.”