Sunday, March 11, 2007

Love Your Enemies, Not The Fact That You Have Them

I.

Jesus of Nazareth put it this way:

"The law of Moses says "If a man gouges out another's eyes, he must pay for it with his own eye. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the one who did it.'

But I say: Don't resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other too! If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too...Give to those who ask and don't turn away from those who wish to borrow."

He continued.

"There is a saying, 'Love your friends, and hate your enemies.'

But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too.

If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

II.

In this culture, we are enemy-driven. Sports, politics, wars, corporations, jobs, and even whether or not we choose to eat meat products. All of these things--all of these ways we define ourselves. We define ourselves NOT by what we are, but what we are NOT.

We are not Republicans, we say. We are NOT the opposing team. We are NOT the terrorists or the communists or the Nazis. We are NOT the competition. We are NOT those who drive SUVs and contribute to global warming. And we are NOT those so uncouth as to eat the flesh of another animal.

And when Jesus said, "Love your enemy", he didn't mean---love the fact that you have enemies. I think we may have confused that somehow.

But it is human nature to point at the other. It's how we define ourselves. We point fingers and say, at least we're not THEM. At least we're not how they are.

Even though some of us delight in fights. Even though some of us delight in bashing Ann Coulter. Even though some of us think hockey to be the best sport ever because two men can legally beat each other up. Even though it feels good to display that F the President sticker on your car. Even though you never took off your John Kerry for President sticker in the first place. Even though you pride yourself on recycling and driving that hybrid car. Even though you swear up and down you do all that you can.

Jesus set that bar pretty high. It's a constant fight within ourselves. We are all imperfect. We are all flawed. We are all hypocrites. But we can and must work on ourselves. We cannot change anyone but ourselves. It starts with us.

The answer lies in love, not in hate. The answer lies in tolerance, not in self-righteousness.

1 comment:

Blue Gal said...

Being a Christian takes a lifetime of humility. None of us is worthy of the name, none of us can live up to the love of Christ, and the blessing is we don't have to.

Nice post. A little preachy. You don't have to convince anybody to be more loving, indeed, you of your own self cannot. Maybe write these kind of things on Wednesday BEFORE church, rather than Sunday AFTER church.

And hopefully you've learned some lessons in your UU experience.