When your Enemy is someone you love
How Jesus teaches us what loving your enemy really means
“ But to you who hear I say, love your enemies,”
Yes, I stopped this verse in mid-sentence. This morning, I felt like it was steamrolling over me like a freight train. I tried to read the rest of today’s gospel passage again and again, but still, my attention was drawn to those words.
As the Holy Spirit got a hold of me, He told me that there was an exposure there, a wound. He had to stop me from going any further because the words hurt so badly, so deeply that they caused me to have anxiety, to panic. But why? What was underneath that feeling?
As I explored the verse and my reaction to it, I asked the Holy Spirit to intercede for me, to cut straight through the very thick air that was surrounding me.
Why had I become paralyzed, even to the point of shaking?
I cried out to the Lord, But I have loved them Lord! I have no malice or ill-will in my heart! I have done what you have asked me to do, and still they hate me, still they choose to come against me even when I loved them as you loved them Lord!
And that’s when the Holy Spirit whispered to me, where does it say in the verse that they are supposed to love you back?
I had never seen that before. The hurt was in my expectation that if I loved like Christ if I loved them, and blessed them and prayed for them that in return they would see the goodness of God. That if I gave them everything, offered up the other cheek, some how that love would be returned.
This is the pain of rejection. This is the pain of our Lord.
Once I was able to see this, my eyes were opened to the rest of the gospel passage. Jesus in fact SAYS not to expect ANYTHING back.
But rather love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back;
How could I have missed that part?
The people that are our enemies are many times the people we love the most. That is why the love your enemies portion of today’s text struck me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love them, it was in fact because I did.
What if your enemy is the boss you gave everything to who betrayed you or the sister you love who stopped talking to you? Or maybe it is a parent or friend who has turned their back on you? These are the deep and close relationships that we never expect to become our enemies. And when they do, the hurt and pain of rejection and betrayal become something that is oftentimes just too painful to deal with.
But if we look at it from Jesus’s perspective, we have something that places us far ahead of the game. We are already following Jesus’ commandment. We already love them! We love them and that’s why it hurts so badly.
So how do we reconcile this feeling? How do we go further and do what Jesus asks of us in today’s gospel? How do we quell the pain?
We expect nothing in return. We do not count it as rejection of us, but rejection of Christ. We see it for what it is. We do not allow it to diminish the love that we have for them- in fact, we use it to fuel the love we have for them.
Today, if you are in pain over a person you love who has become your enemy, embrace Jesus’s advice. Expect nothing in return. And use the love that you have for them, as fuel and resolve to love them more than you ever have before through your words, actions and prayers.