Presuming we know the score – that Sermon on the Mount imperative of Jesus’ to love our enemies – we will have struggled to accomplish it. Is it a sadistic thing or not? Is it an unattainable thing? Even if we can achieve it, will it be worth the sacrifice of ourselves?
No, it isn’t a sadistic thing or an unattainable thing from a Christian viewpoint; or, better put, not from God’s angle on things. And, yes, it’s worth it. But it’s never easy to forgive an enemy from a human angle on things! (If anyone were to say forgiveness is easy, then, at least from their human angle on things, they’d probably be lying... hardly a godly attribute. Too many people are challenged to pretend they know it all and have it all so far as the kingdom of God is concerned. But those genuinely content in the Kingdom can relax and be as they are; there is nothing left to prove and nothing left to gain.)
Our ‘enemies’ are anyone we have struggled to love – yes, that Christian imperative again! It’s not truly about how we are treated; it’s more about the focus from us on how we are treating them. Again, it’s much easier contemplated than actually achieved.
God is not asking us to do anything we can’t do, or anything that will be bad for us. Indeed, in faith, we will reap something for our overtures of trust in God, by loving those we’ve long struggled with; or at least to gain a grip over our fear for these encounters. Often that’s enough. Most would settle for that outcome.
Could it be that these people struggle also with us – could it be a two-way street? Be honest. We could resolve to make life easier for the both of us, and work on the only person we can change – that’s us. Surely we are not too conceited to see that we, as individuals, have our own faults.
From God’s viewpoint, there is little interest in the dynamics of who is right and who is wrong. All God wants to see from both parties – or at least one party – is that there is the genuine commitment to love and to keep loving.
Love is a commitment to keep loving and to endure and not give up.
Praying for those who we feel are against us is made easier to know that God works in our own hearts when we pray. We are the only ones that we can affect. When we ask God to help us, it’s about asking him to help us to change where we can; to become more tolerant and understanding and compassionate. It’s amazing what God is prepared to do when we truly seek his will.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.