What follows is an excerpt from my new book Turtle on the Fencepost: Finding Faith through Doubt
from p. 28
Jesus’ Ten Most Unpopular Sayings
2. “Love your enemies”
This famous passage and its accompanying encouragement to “turn the other cheek” are taken literally by the Quakers among others. The rest of us tend to water it down. “Surely,” we might think, “Jesus wouldn’t expect me to love the likes of Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, or that jerk who lives down the street.” We also tend to water down his message when it comes to matters such as war. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, went through some impressive mental gymnastics to come up with the theory and theology of justifiable warfare (a concept, by the way, developed centuries before the atomic bomb, chemical warfare, and other aspects of “progress”.) Loving our enemy, then, is something we’d just as soon not want to consider (even though Jesus said it).
Loving my enemies is a much more personal challenge. My enemy is anyone I don’t like. Worse yet, my enemy is anyone who doesn’t like me! Yet these are the people Jesus calls me to love. Am I supposed to invite my enemies over for dinner? I don’t know. All I know is that I can at least pray that God blesses them, which is hard enough. I remember one time praying for a man who’d given me trouble. I prayed that he’d be able to get a new car I knew he wanted., though I have to admit, at then end of the prayer I added, “At least give him a flat tire once in a while, Lord.”
Turtle on the Fencepost: Finding Faith through Doubt by Richard B. Patterson is published by Liguori Publications. It is available from the publisher and can also be ordered at www.amazon.com and at www.barnesandnoble.com
If you take the time to read it, I would welcome your feedback. My e-mail address is RichP45198@aol.com
Wheww, that gives me a knock on my head-tough challenge too.
Love your enemy is tough for most people. It’s just packed with metaphysical insight. Now you can do it because Jesus said to, or, you can try to understand where the benefits lie. Personally I think most people do it (if they do it at all) because they were told to do it. That makes it pretty much artificial, and not nearly as beneficial as a full understanding of the conceptwoul be to them.