(What marks us as Christians) is unreserved love for our enemies, for the unloving and the unloved, love for our religious, political and personal adversaries. In every case it is the love which was fulfilled in the cross of Christ. –Bonhoeffer
There cannot be anything more revolutionary than a lifestyle of love for our enemies. Yet, this is the life Christ has called us into by loving us enough to live, die, defeat death, hell and the devil, claim new life and ascend into heaven. Today, the constant prayer of the divine Son for a people who killed him calls us to his strange way and our story is headed toward a culmination of our life together with a God we are prone to hate.
Ours is a revolutionary story.
But it is a difficult one to live out. Our story, according to Martin Luther, is one of constant repentance. According to the Apostle Paul, it is a story of putting to death our desires and trusting that they will mysteriously be replaced by desire for God. Ours is a story of laying down our inalienable rights that our forefathers dreamed about and a man named Martin Luther King Jr. held our nation accountable for living into. Ours is a story of loving our enemies.
At first this message strikes against everything we have been taught. How can we love Fidel Castro, a man who has opposed justice for a half a century and counting? Are we be justified in hating as despicable a man as Joseph Kony? How can we love Trayvorn Martin and George Zimmerman at the same time? Are we not called to pick sides?
It seems we are giving up too much. We quickly realize we are not up to the challenge of loving an evil man like Kony, who has stolen so many children from their mothers and fathers. And we also realize we are incapable of loving even a man like Zimmerman, whose guilt has yet to be proven- though that occasion may arise. But most of this is just talk, after all.
How many of us will run into an evil dictator? How many of us will meet Zimmerman? How many of us will find ourselves challenged to love a career oppressor while holding a burning desire for justice on behalf of the countless victims? No, our enemies will be harder to locate than these.
I can only speak for myself, but I find my enemies at work. I find them at church. I find them in conversation with strangers and friends. I find my neighbors and enemies hard to distinguish.
But this is the revolutionary part of the gospel. Jesus makes no distinction of neighbor and enemy. I find that unsettling, but he loves without reservation. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He gives happiness to the undeserving. He comes to men like Castro and says, Come to me and I will give you rest. His love is unsettling because he seems to love the wrong people.
We will never understand until we see ourselves in the role of enemy. The fact is that we have held this title from the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden until the day Jesus said It is finished on the cross.
God loves his enemies- far and wide- making no distinction between enemy and neighbor.
Then Jesus tells us go and do the same.
Ours is a revolutionary story.