Who is your "Enemy"?
Most of us, I would guess, would not say that we have any "Enemies". That is, we don't have any people who are really 'out to get us', or who go out of their way to make things really rough on us. We may have had bullies who picked on us in grade school, but for most of us, those days are long gone.
So, who is your enemy?
Could it be someone much closer to you? Could it be someone you live with? Could it be your FAMILY?
Jesus taught, in the "Sermon on the Mount" one of the toughest lessons for His followers:
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate."
This is the kind of teaching that makes me want to pull my hair out (and I can't afford to do that!)
This is the stuff that makes me go "I give up! I can't do it!" (That may have been part of His point--more on that another time.) Yet, this is Jesus' teaching about the new way of understanding faith, religion, and following God's will...LOVE your ENEMIES!
But here's the thing: I don't think I have any 'enemies' (other than 'The Enemy', but that's another story). If you're like me, you might be saying 'So...I'm off the hook...it doesn't apply to me!'
Not so fast.
Who is it that gets under your skin? Who is it that bugs you? Who is the one who can frustrate you most quickly, make you want to scream, pull your hair out, and so on?
Who is it that makes you want to throw up your hands and say "I give up!"? Who takes you for granted? Who criticizes you most, expects the most of you, and thanks you least?
For many of us, the "who" is...our family!
A shame, yes...but true anyway. (SHOULD it be that way? Of course not!...but it often is true that we are kind/polite/considerate to everyone outside our homes, but not to those within.)
So...what would it be like if you "Loved...your family"? If you 'prayed for those who persecute...mistreat...insult...take advantage of...are rude to'...you--INCLUDING your family members who do so?
What would it change if you--just you--decided NOT to keep score, decided not to try the 'passive/agressive' approach...decided to love--in lots of practical ways--your family without 'expecting' anything in return?
For many of us, when it comes to following Jesus and living this out, the rubber meets the road right at home, with our families.
How does 'following Jesus' change how you should treat them?