I Can Have Enemies
I used to believe it was OK to have enemies.
Because Jesus said to love them, bless them, pray for them… I kinda took it as permission to collect ‘em.
Like Jesus was saying, “It’s OK to call people or groups of people your enemies.”
But I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t believe it’s OK to collect or have enemies.
Here’s what I mean:
Me considering someone my enemy isn’t OK.
If someone considers me to be their enemy, my job is to love them anyway—but God’s plan isn’t for me to go around labeling or categorizing people as my enemies.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” —Luke 6.27, 28
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5.43-45
”Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” —Romans 12.14, 20
These verses aren’t giving us permission to have enemies any more than they’re giving us permission to hate people, curse people, hurt people, or persecute people.
If they were giving us permission to collect enemies, they’d also be saying things like this…
Do good to those you hate.
Bless those you curse.
Pray for those you hurt and persecute.
But that’s not what these verses are saying.
Instead, they reveal how we are to see everyone: as neighbors.
“There are one kind of people in the world. And if Jesus has anything to say about it, all of them are my neighbors.” —Preston Yancey
Atheists are not my enemy.
Bill Maher is not my enemy.
Muslims are not my enemy.
Liberal voters and politicians are not my enemy.
Homosexuals are not my enemy.
Drug dealers are not my enemy.
Beggars are not my enemy.
Nobody is my enemy.
If I have enemies, it must never be because I call them enemies. It can only be because they have called me their enemy.
I used to believe it was OK to have enemies, but now I don’t. The only categories for followers of Jesus are: friends, family, and neighbors.
If I don’t know how to classify someone, they should automatically get labeled as “neighbor.”
This is what I believe now: I only have friends, family, and neighbors.
ADD YOUR THOUGHTS / JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Do you have enemies? When is it OK for us to call someone an enemy?
This is an unplanned add-on to the series “Stuff I Don’t Believe Anymore.” Check out part 1 “Richer Is Always Better,” part 2 “Success Will Make My Insecurities Go Away,” part 3 “Catholics Aren’t Christian,” and part 4 “URGENT WORLD CHANGER REVIVAL.”
Determined to identify more people as friends today. Thanks Brian!
Wow, I absolutely love this!! I have never thought about it in these terms before. Friends, family and neighbors. I guess I assumed that even if I didn’t want to be enemies, that the other person had chosen it, so until we became “friends,” we were still considered “enemies.” I am their “enemy,” and they are my, “persecuter who I have to try to love, even though they bring the rage out in me.” I guess I tried to fit that idea into the, “love your enemy,” philosophy, yet still label them as “enemy.” But that gets kinda confusing deciding how to Love an “enemy”… It’s doesn’t feel like “love.” It feels more like a task of disciplining my reactions to them, and aiming for the unattainable harmonious relationship that we will probably never have. And I guess I spent more time wondering over the details of how to forgive them correctly, pray for them to be blessed- and trying to select which blessings they need in my opinion. Wouldn’t want to waste my breath and accidentally pray for something that will allow them more leverage against me in the future.. This is what I mean..
“I am supposed to pray for their blessing. But I don’t think I want *god* to grant a prayer for material blessings for THEM… We all see what they do with their money now, and we wouldn’t want them to have lots of funding for their wicked plans.. Ok, so money is out. I can pray for… Wisdom… But then they might…”
And it goes on and on… Always holding to the “form” of loving my enemy, but probably missing a lot of the “function.” It seemed good enough though, in comparison to my friends who outrightly HATED their enemies. Hey, at least I’m thinking about how to pray for them. At least I’m not openly cursing them…
But, to tell the truth, it’s never really been good enough on a Soul level. The things I just read in your post are most definitely going to change the way I do things, and I’m sure it will help the process of maybe eventually having a harmonious relationship with this person. Thank you so much for this post! I feel like its a real gem, a pearl of great price, ya know what I’m saying? One of those great bits of wisdom I can tuck away, and it will truly come in handy the next time I’m in need of some neighborly love. Life’s too short to keep a neighbor as an enemy anyways. This will help me so much, thank you, a million thank you’s
(P.s. ^ your post kinda really looks like Jesus)