Can you love your enemies?
    February 27 2015 by D.E. Parkerson, Guest Column

    Several years ago in the Rocky Mountains a bighorn ram approached the home of a man named Ed Bailey while he was watching a football game on television. The bighorn stopped suddenly, seeing his reflection in an unbreakable plate glass window. Thinking it was another ram, he bowed his head, ready to charge. He backed up, and immediately saw that the other ram backed up also.
     
    Every time he moved, his reflection moved. Finally, after a three-hour duel, the ram shook his head and charged full force into the window, knocking himself unconscious.
     
    That bighorn ram reminds me of a few people I have known through the years. I suspect that you have known such persons also – people who were born in the objective case, and live in a combative mood.
    What makes them walk around ready to butt heads with everyone they meet – even though in the long run they are the loser for their negative attitude? I am reminded of the humorous story of a western cowboy who was known for being “the fastest gun in the west.” He was so fast, in fact, he could shoot before his gun left his holster. His name? “Footless Frankie!”
     
    I suspect that most of us have shot ourselves in the foot at one time or another by being too quick to criticize, to condemn, to confront, to challenge or to chastise. I certainly have. We need to hear again the words of Jesus, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:32-36).
     
    So what if you are good to your mother – big deal! Even Mafia mobsters look after their family and friends. Any person who would be a disciple of Jesus Christ must go further than that. We are challenged to love those people we ordinarily could not stand.
     
    Any person who is serious about living the Christian life must learn to look at others through the eyes of Jesus – the eyes of compassion and understanding. Yes, this includes even those who are difficult to love.
    When we look at people through the eyes of Jesus, we see them as individuals having infinite value. It is easy to view a young person in trouble – perhaps pregnant or on drugs – and cast a critical eye. But any parents who read these words know that it could be their child in trouble – and if it were, it would make a tremendous difference in the attitude they have.
     
    We dare not treat any person with contempt, for he or she is a person for whom Christ died. To see every person through the eyes of Jesus is to see him or her, not as an object, but as an individual with hopes, dreams and aspirations equal to our own.
     
    An unloving heart is a spiritual problem. Very often those who have the habit of butting heads with everybody they meet do so because they have never felt loved or accepted by others. Just as an abused child will often grow up to abuse his or her own children, so the person who has never felt loved or accepted will not be able to love and accept others. The spiritual answer for such persons is that they come to fully understand what it means to be loved and accepted by God. It is in knowing that we are loved and accepted by God that that we learn to accept ourselves and to love others.
     
    As followers of Jesus Christ we are taught to “love our enemies.”
     
    Can it be done? Is it possible? What does it mean? No other word has caused as much discussion and debate as the commandment to love our enemies. So, we must know what Jesus meant. The Greek word He used is agape.
     
    It means that we must never allow ourselves to desire anything but the highest good for others – even our enemies. Obviously we cannot love an enemy in the same way we love those nearest and dearest to us, for that would be unnatural, impossible and even wrong.
     
    But we can see to it that no matter what a person may do to hurt us, we should desire and seek nothing but his or her highest good.
     
    Do you have a loving heart? If not, you can have one with God’s help. It is for your own sake, for your antagonist’s sake and demonstrates to others that you are “a child of the Father.” Retaliation is never redemptive in nature. In a world governed by a holy God, it can never be triumphant. It is when we love that we are most like God.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Del Parkerson is a retired minister who writes The Paper Pulpit, a blog at paperpulpit.wordpress.com. See BR's 'best blog' section every Thursday for updates.)

    2/27/2015 12:37:10 PM by D.E. Parkerson, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Christian living, love




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