Dad you can have enemies right?

Enemies-e1520468752606.pngI have always believed that the Bible matters and is relevant to all ages. I just didn’t realize how true that was, even for little kids, until the other day when I was driving Asher to school.

As we were driving, Asher said, “Dad, you can have enemies, right? If someone hits you a lot, they are your enemy.”

He then preceded to tell me who his enemy was and what he thought about them. And, he outright asked if it was okay to have enemies. Because, in our technical language, it seems that Asher has a “frenemy.”

Sometimes I wish adults were this honest and open.

So, I told him about Jesus, and how we follow what Jesus asks of us. I told him how Jesus doesn’t deny that there are enemies in this world (people who hurt us, maybe even hit us, or people who aren’t good), but that Jesus says we are called to love our enemies.

I said to Asher, “If you have an enemy, we need to love them too. It’s okay to choose not to play with them. It’s okay to tell the adult in charge if you are being hit. But, we don’t want to hate anyone.”

I write this all because I think Asher’s question is a good one: Is it okay to have an enemy?

Yes, the Bible lives in the reality where there are hurtful, abusive and difficult people in our lives – people that we might call an “enemy.” What the Bible challenges isn’t the existence of evil, but rather our response to it. We are called to love our enemies, and we are called to love them because our God in heaven loves them. And, how we do that is complex, and my point isn’t to wade into all of that today.

Yes, with abusive people, boundaries matter.

Yes, with toxic people, you don’t have to become a doormat.

Yes, with evil, pursuing justice matters.

But, when it comes down to the base level, what I told Asher was, “We can’t let hate into our hearts.” We need to love people, even the ones who are difficult.

So, how might you do that with the difficult people around you?

That’s a question that’s worth thinking about, because after I dropped Asher off that’s what I thought about. My little guy reminded me of Jesus’ calling on our lives to love our enemy. And, it’s a reminder that I needed. And, maybe you need this as well.

 

Jesus’ Simplest and Hardest Teaching…

love enemiesOn Sunday we are looking at one of the simplest and most radical of all the teaching of Jesus. It’s this: Love your enemies.

Bertrand Russell, a Christian man who later became an atheist and deep thinker, once famous said:

“The Christian principle ‘love your enemy is good … there is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practice sincerely”.

What I think is interesting is that he doesn’t debate the beauty or rightness of Jesus’ statement. He debates its practicality or the average person’s ability to practice it. And I agree with him wholeheartedly, that this teaching of Jesus is difficult to practice. And it is difficult because it is counter cultural, it requires discipline, and most of  all, it requires inspiration as well.

So on Sunday I want to really explore and dream about how our lives might be different if we actually practiced this teaching of Jesus. As Jesus himself says, “everyone loves who love them back”. What might happen though if we became a community of people who took seriously Jesus’ teaching to love others. How might that shape and change us?

And so we are going to be diving into the world of neuroscience, our view of God, and of course, a few thoughts from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

My argument on Sunday will be pretty simple.

  • It’s not that loving enemies is easy: it isn’t.
  • It’s not that loving enemies makes sense: it doesn’t.
  • It’s not that loving enemies will make them be nice to us: it probably won’t.
  • It’s that loving our enemies is the way of Jesus Christ.

Loving our enemies is not easy,  it’s certainly not practical, and it won’t ensure you never get hurt again. Loving your enemies sometimes mean you end up on a cross; sometimes it means being left alone and abandoned, and sometimes it means that the entire world gets changed…

So that’s where we’re going, but why wait to hear it on Sunday. Why not practice it today? Why not try to love those around you today? It won’t be easy or simple, but it will be the way of Jesus. And that should be enough…