I 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.