If the news is to be believed, there are enemies everywhere. Depending on your news source those enemies vary greatly from politicians to public figures; from those whose values do not align with our own to those responsible for keeping the peace. With recent violence attacks, we face a stark reminder of what happens when we define our enemies based on race, culture, or creed.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Classifying enemies is so easy. Those people with whom I do not identify whose actions I interpret as threatening my position, my possessions, my person. That is how we determine the enemy. That is how we know which side to line up with, whose team we are on. We all like teams. We like to know where we stand. We find security in group identity. But Jesus calls us to something more.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus calls us to stand on the side of all humankind. Jesus forbids us to define ourselves as greater than others. Jesus cannot condone our decision to make other people our enemy.
Because we are all in the same boat.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
No one gets to feel superior. No one is righteous. Not one.
No one has perfect relationships. No one has avoided hurting others. No one lives a sinless life. No one has come to God on the basis of their own merit.
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
We are God’s creations. The people you see every day are children of your Father in heaven. Those you call enemy are walking images of the infinite.
God loves them. If you are to remain faithful to the image of God in you, you must love them as well. You must seek their good. You must fight for their justice. You must be their advocate.
Even if they define you as their enemy.
“while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,” Romans 5:10
Jesus walked this road first. He is calling us to follow his lead on the path of love.