How can I love my enemies?

In this past week, I’ve sent out two Daily Bread Bible passages for consideration that raise a very particular point about our ambassadorship (keep recent events of the U.S. embassy in Iran in mind):

  • “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good” (Matt. 5:44-45).
  • “Therefore, do not be like them, for your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. . . No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:8, 24).

In response to those passages, I received the following question: “How can I love someone who oppresses me?”

Here is my answer.

First of all, we must always keep in mind our three-dimensional nature in the image of God. My corrupt human nature—my ego—is my own worst enemy and most oppressive. If I can live with and love my own oppressive self, why can’t I love others?

Second, God’s grace provides comprehensively for this love. God’s love for us includes our soul that He regenerates in His image and inspires with His Spirit—a soul that transcends and even thrives in the love of those who are least loveable but most in need of authentic love. God makes all things work together for good and makes our afflictions both momentary and light . . . He even makes them work for us!

Third, love does not mean liking or enjoying the oppressive person or the oppression.  Rather, it means doing the best for that person in every situation, since we are a part of God’s means of redeeming an enemy from his/her own corrupt nature, just as He has and continues to do for me.

Any time we want or need to actually see love for one’s enemy at work, look to the life of Jesus in the Gospels (especially Jesus’ patience with Peter, conversion of Paul, and redress of the religious establishment in Matthew 23).

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