As I age I have more questions than answers. They say this is wisdom, I think it’s dementia. The questions come faster and more furiously when I try to wrap my brain and body around Jesus admonishment to love our enemies.
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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. –Matthew 5:44-45 NRSV
Two nights ago we were reading the Exodus story. A story where there is a good guy and a bad guy; or so my dualist mind thought. This is the story I have known for what seems like my whole life. It is neat. It is tidy and I knew who God disliked- I knew the bad guys.
And then I read it with my children. I was cheering when the Israelites made it across the Red Sea. The wonder of it all, all those people crossing on dry land- miraculous. When we got to chapter 14: 26-28 our exuberance diminished. As is our custom I stopped and we listened to what the Holy Spirit had to say about this.
One child asked, “I wonder how God felt when all those Egyptians died?”
I was frozen in my thinking, frozen in my heart. “Well, of course.” I thought, “They were the enemy. So… happy?” (Thank you God for keeping my mouth shut. At this point I was the student needing to be taught.)
Another child answered, “God made them, even if they didn’t know it. So I think he was sad. He loves everybody. Yeah, he was sad.”
The moment was gone in a flash. The children were on to other topics, but I couldn’t shake this one. Two days later it’s still teaching me. How do we love our enemies?
We love by realizing we don’t have enemies. Yes, there might be people who want to hurt us, but is that what makes an enemy? If we are in Christ, can anyone cause everlasting damage? I came to the conclusion that we are all created by God. We are all loved by God. We are connected whether we like it or not.
Perhaps this is the starting spot. Children of the Father will see all people as siblings. Children of the Father will really see them. (Matthew 5:45)
Governments, religions, families often thrive on having an enemy. Having someone to hate provides more energy that Starbucks can harness. I hang my head in shame that much of the energy in Christianity has been focused on creating and hunting enemies.
Father, help me to see the connections I have with every living thing on this earth. Help me to love my siblings.