There’s this thing my dad used to say a lot when I was growing up, though for the life of me I can’t remember any of the context surrounding why he would say it. He’d say, “Love your enemies. It will drive them crazy.”
I also don’t know the origin of the phrase. Apparently it shows up spoken by one of the characters in a 2003 musical-comedy film I’d never heard of called The Fighting Temptations. You can also buy stickers with the phrase, or a patch for your jacket, refrigerator magnets, signs to hang in your kitchen.
That’s a lot of kitsch for a phrase with no apparent history. The nearest approximation I could find was a quote attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much.” Which is close but not really the same thing.
But hey, here at PubTheo we don’t let a little thing like attributional uncertainty stand in the way of us and a good topic. So we’re going to explore this idea of loving your enemies, driving them crazy while doing so, and why we might consider giving it a go. Let’s get a couple of preliminary questions on the table:
- “I don’t have any enemies, so how does this relate to me?” you might reasonably ask. So, what do we mean by an enemy here?
- How can we possibly manage to love someone who we might think of as an enemy? That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it?
- Why would it drive them crazy, and is that what we’re really after by loving them? Seems kind of self-serving.
Writing at his blog, the Rev. Kirk Kubicek, an Episcopal priest from Maryland, connected this idea to the Sermon on the Mount as captured in the Gospel of Matthew 5:38-48, where Jesus entreats the crowd to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Kubicek writes:
Jesus affirms in our tiny portion of Matthew: do not resist the evil doer, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give to everyone who begs from you, lend to those in need; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; be perfect as God is perfect.
Talk about tall orders! Click on this link, or the one above, to give Kubicek’s piece a read, and then let’s talk about it in our conversation this week. The discussion starts Tuesday at 7 pm at Lockhart’s BBQ in downtown Lake Orion.