Loving Enemies

love your enemies

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

This sounds like a nice enough Bible verse, right? Not really. If we fully recognize what Paul is saying here, and put it into practice, it will be one of the most difficult things we ever do.

If you have a stronghold in your life, you are enslaved to whatever it is that has power over you. For many people, the strongholds are things like anger and a desire for revenge. I think these feelings reside in every human soul. It is normal to have them, but once we decide to follow Jesus, it’s time to take out these strongmen and crush them.

I was reading and wish so very much that people would just GET IT. Whenever someone suggests that we should love our enemies to the point of embracing non-violence, you always get people coming out of the woodwork who say things like, “What if someone breaks into your house and tries to kill your child?”

I can understand this. Here’s the thing, though. First of all, the Holy Spirit is immensely powerful and can give us the wisdom in that moment to fix the situation. I love how Antoinette Huff handled this school shooter. Second, if the person DID kill your family, remember that Jesus destroyed death:

…it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10

In other words, Jesus put the lie to death. We are immortal souls! God has the whole thing under control. No worries.

Think of life as a dream you’re having. So what if you or someone else wakes up a little bit before you had set your alarm clock to go off? Not that big of a deal, really. I know this sounds flippant, but keep in mind that I am not 100 percent certain that my older son is alive. This knowledge keeps me SANE.

So we don’t have to hate or kill our enemies and continue the cycle that the satan would like to see perpetuated. I refuse to participate.

Of course, it’s easy to sit here and talk about unlikely circumstances or wars that I am at a personal distance from. It’s another thing altogether to talk about REAL enemies — the people in our everyday lives who slander us, provoke us and do other things that make us feel like a spiritual knife is entering our heart. Our normal instinct is to STRIKE BACK, or at the very least, engage in a good complaining session about the person.

But Paul says to take captive EVERY THOUGHT and bring it into obedience to Christ. So that means that if I choose to complain to my husband about someone who has hurt my feelings, denigrating them, that I am NOT being obedient to Christ. Yikes.

So what to do? I refuse to give myself a pass on the grounds that I am “only human” because I’m really trying to transcend my current level of consciousness.

The way that I take such thoughts captive is to implement Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:44, which says to “pray for those who persecute you.” So, whenever I am tormented by a yukky thought about another person, the only thing to do really is to pray for them. And boy do I not want to do that. But you know what? When I force myself to do so, I feel a wonderful peace. And if the thoughts return the next day, I do it again!

I don’t pray that the person will see the error of their ways or anything like that. What I pray is that the person will be most richly blessed and experience God’s joy, peace and love in their lives. In other words, what I want for myself. And you know what? I get what I pray as if I had prayed those words for me rather than the person I have struggled with!

This stuff is really really hard. And it’s not fun to do. And I don’t do it as much as I should. Some thoughts manage to get through in spite of my efforts to kick them back into the darkness. But it’s a journey that I want to undertake. I hate the darkness and don’t want any part of it, really.

The knowledge of God is that we are one, and how we treat our brothers and sisters is how we treat ourselves. I want NOTHING to come between me and this knowledge.

Do Not Oppose Evil: A Counter-intuitive Idea That Works

tomato oppose evilA few days ago, I made the mistake of reading an article about the corporate cartels that run the country and which are destroying the world. I felt a huge anger well up inside me. I snapped at the people close to me and when I went grocery shopping I felt like running over the people in my way with my cart.

I thought, “Surely this is a righteous anger. After all, innocent people are losing freedom and being killed because of these practices.” The fruit, though, was not righteous. My husband had to listen to me rant when he wanted to relax after work. I didn’t smile or have any nice conversations at the grocery store because I’m sure I had a visible black cloud over my head.

I decided that the anger wasn’t good. After all, I had deliberately set it aside a few years ago in favor of better mental health.

Yet I’m not a fan of inaction. I don’t want evil to win.

Fortunately, I came across the Tao Te Ching yesterday. I started reading it, and found this:

Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.

I thought about it and thought about it. I read some more of Loa-Tzu’s writing. I started getting really excited, because I realized that God had revealed The Way of Jesus to the Chinese before Jesus made His earthly appearance. I remembered that Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. To give someone who takes your coat your cloak as well. To go the extra mile after being compelled to go the first one.

He is teaching us to not oppose evil.

It took me a minute to wrap my head around this. After all, in our culture, Christians tend to be first in line to oppose perceived evil, often standing up for the death penalty, protesting abortion and lobbying for marriage laws to stay unchanged.

But.

What would Evil do if we gave the person on death row a big hug? What if we held a woman as she cried after having an abortion? What if we applauded love and simply lived our lives according to The Way so that if someone was doing something wrong, Evil would skulk out of his life, ashamed of itself?

I know that Lao-Tzu’s statement was God-inspired, at least as much as I, a mere human, can know anything at all about this sort of thing.

About a year ago, I had a dream. In the dream, God said, “You are going to be martyred.”

A door opened, and I found myself in a prison cell with two malevolent witches. They had every intention of killing me. I wasn’t too happy about the situation, but I felt resigned, since God had already told me what was going to happen.

I looked at the witch across from me. A feeling of great compassion came over me, and I reached out my hand and gently caressed her face. The anger completely left her, and she was transformed. I woke up before the other witch could kill me.

I think this dream was God’s way of showing me that softness transforms hardness, that love conquers evil — at least some of the time. Sometimes, evil is pretty resistant to love, I think. But you become what you focus on, which is why people who subscribe to running magazines, buy running shorts and run every day often become marathon runners. This tells me that focusing on evil is not the right thing to do.

So I will not rage against the machine. Instead of protesting Monsanto, I’ll take joy in growing my own tomatoes. If I have an opportunity to give some to my neighbor, I will.