Well, that’s what Jesus tells us in Luke’s telling (6:27-28). Here’s the passage:
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
This was part of the Gospel reading last Sunday at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, our home base. And honestly, it’s a pretty tall order. On first blush it sounds Jesus is asking us to be a sucker, to take a beating and respond with “Please sir, may I have some more?” Or is he?
In his book, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Gregory Boyd writes that we’re not really being told here to allow people to abuse us. Rather, Jesus is giving us a way “by which we can keep from being defined by those who act unjustly toward us.” In reflecting on this passage, the late author Rachel Held Evans struggled with how to make this teaching relevant to her own life and experience:
Sure, I’m not a fan of Calvinism…but are Calvinists my enemies? Certainly not. What about Al Qaeda or the Taliban? I suppose that technically they are my enemies, but it’s not like I interact with them on a regular basis. How am I supposed to love them?
I feel remarkably blessed to be faced with little more than petty arguments and silly resentments in my life…especially in a world of so much injustice. So how do I love my “enemies” when, by the grace of God or good luck or a little of both, I don’t really have any?
Evans’ questions are really good ones, and so we’re going to steal them for our conversation this week. Who are our enemies? How do we love them? And how do we ‘keep from being defined by those who act unjustly toward us”?
We’ll wrestle with these questions, and probably more, in our conversation tomorrow evening, Tuesday, Feb. 22. The discussion begins at 7pm at 313 Pizza Bar in downtown Lake Orion.