Loving enemies: a conversation

She sat across the desk from me. She set her coffee on the desk. She said, “Love your enemies. Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ I don’t know what that means.’”

She picked up her coffee. She took a drink.

I waited.

“I mean, on a really great day I can love my friends. On a normal day, I can barely look at myself, let alone love myself. And Jesus says I’m supposed to love my enemies? I’m not arguing with Jesus. I mean, he’s Jesus. But I have no idea what it means.”

I wasn’t sure where to start. It’s a very honest question. And one that gets complicated very quickly. Mostly, I think, because we jump to the worst situations and then think, “If I have to love the person who did that to me, Jesus must be crazy.”

“Do you have any enemies?” I asked.

She looked confused.

“Do you have anyone who actively resists your attempts to do good? Because people who resist your attempts to do bad may not be enemies. So, do you have anyone who has, as their intention, started making your life miserable?”

While she was thinking, I went on.

“Because as Jesus said these words, he could look across the crowd at the faces of the religious leaders who were looking for his errors. He had walked past the Roman garrison in Capernaum with soldiers who had conquered and occupied his country. He had faced an enemy who tried to make his mission fail.”

“Is this a sermon or a conversation,” she said quietly.

I stopped. She was right.

“Sorry. I just want us to be clear what we mean by enemy.”

“I understand,” she said. “Can I answer that tomorrow? I need to think about it.”

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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