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Loving Your Enemy

Weekly Devotionals

Loving Your Enemy

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The tragedy in Charlottesville last week left three dead and many more wounded when white supremacist and counter-protesters faced off in a violent confrontation. Having spent my undergraduate years in this beautiful town, the events last week left me both saddened and angry.

This is an opportunity to call out neo-Nazis and the alt-right for what it is: evil, not of God, wicked. Christians should and must be engaged in this civil discourse about what it means to be a good citizen. No matter what background you come from, we can be united by opposition to violence and fear.

The events in Charlottesville are also an opportunity to examine our own hearts. It’s an opportunity to insert the wisdom of our faith into the debate. If we believe the words of Jesus to be true, then we must point the world to the ultimate source of truth. It is no easy task by any means but the world is hungry for meaning beyond what moralism can provide.

Jesus was constantly showing moralists that no one was without sin. He says be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. He doesn’t say to just tithe but rather give it all away. We find it too easy to love neighbors that look and think like us but Christ called us to love our enemies. If you read the Bible thinking I can never live up to these standards, then you are getting the main point. Nothing we do, apart from the love of God, can save us.

The wisdom of scripture is that the hatred within the thugs is the same hatred in my own heart. Yes our versions of morality are light years apart but we experience the same compulsion to fear and anger and we’re both wounded in the same way. That’s why Jesus looked beyond the surface and said that hating a brother in your heart also makes you a murderer. I don’t think this was hyperbole.

If we want real change, beyond band-aid political solutions, then we must address the central issue with our hearts. A Christian writer from the Orthodox tradition once said that Christianity is not the solution for how to make this a better world.  War ended Hitler’s terror but violence cannot erase the Nazi heart.

I pray that we may find the courage to fight violence with peace, hubris with humility, and moralism with the gospel.