Love Your Enemies
Love your enemies
I have watched the news about the Tucson shooting with the rest of the country with dismay and deep sadness. I too, wonder what would cause someone to destroy human life. I read articles in the newspapers where people in their attempts to find a reason for this horror are laying blame at the feet of “those people.” If only this person would change or if only that group would stop the rhetoric, this would never have happened.
It is so much easier to look for the blame outside of ourselves and demand that something be done to “fix” this. Fix our country, fix our government, fix other people. Yet, we know that sustainable, radical change will only come about when we realize that there is nothing to fix, only a new way to be.
Jesus gave us a brilliant answer to this kind of event in Luke 6:27-31. He gives us an entire list of things we can do when we find ourselves facing an “enemy.” The list is radical and will initiate an evolution of consciousness if we choose to follow its instructions. And we know as we change our interior world, our outer world reflects accordingly.
First thing he instructs us to do is to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. That is so counterintuitive to our human instincts to survive. If we love our enemies, we will surely perish because they will destroy us. Jesus is asking us to consider the opposite. He challenges us to see that our survival depends on our capacity to love those we have separated ourselves from. Then he invites us to go beyond survival to thriving by raising the bar even more. Our next step is to actually take action on the decision to love them by doing good for those who hate us.
This act of dropping our defenses to love one another seems almost impossible to our small human way of thinking. It is so difficult to swallow our hurt and our pride and offer generosity and good acts to those who have threatened or hurt us. It is so much easier to want to blame the other and judge them as evil and wrong. Yet, as we do this we continue to perpetuate the hell from which we long to escape. Consider that Jesus would not ask something from us that we are not capable of doing. The very fact that he made the statement confirms that not only do we have the ability to follow his teachings but that ultimately we will evolve to this level of being.
We may hear this and say, “Yeah-that person needs to pay attention to this. He or she needs to follow that advice. If only THEY would love their enemy, then none of this would happen.” But Jesus didn’t say that they should love their enemy, he said you and me and all of us. And we cannot wait for someone else to start following this commandment, we are the ones to start with. As each one of us makes the choice to love our enemy and to then go to the next step of doing good for those who we have demonized, we will create an atmosphere where that level of hate and violence has no place and only love prevails. In the wake of Tucson, let’s commit today to love anyone we reject as our enemy by seeing the presence of God in them. Let’s all then perform an act of sacred goodness and compassion for this person and watch our world transform.