I hesitate to think of myself as having enemies in the biblical sense, because enemies in that sense seems most evidently to be those who are enemies against God. They are the faithfuls’ enemies, because of the faithful, living in the way from God. Sometimes I don’t know why I have the few enemies I have. Other times though, I know I either rub them the wrong way, or we have conflict in a life situation which ends up unsettled. Sometimes hard to pinpoint or even surmise. I am not talking here about someone with whom one might have a conflict which then is resolved. But I’m referring to those who seem to be dyed-in-the-wool enemies.
It is especially galling when an enemy was once a friend. When one is ignored no matter what, or treated as one outside the family of God, and there is no reconciliation, then and there it seems one has an enemy. Or at least not a friend. When one has been a companion with another and is now rejected out of hand, even if for a reason that is either a sin, or could become a sin, but the other has repented of, then it seems the one withholding reconciliation has become an enemy. Of course in many societies in the world, simply to name the name of Christ means one has enemies who threaten their very lives. That is certainly not the case in the society in which I live.
How then are we to love our enemies? We can’t love them as friends, even though it is galling when they treat us as friends in certain contexts. As if they’re simply putting up with us. Are we seeing their perspective? Maybe there is some offensive way in ourselves we need to repent of, not only to the Lord, but also to them. Ironically, maybe they see us as an enemy, as well. That would be a good question to consider. Have I removed the plank from my own eye, so that I can really see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from my brother or sister’s eye? Sadly one can treat others with contempt. Jesus said when we go down that path we can end up being in danger of hell fire.
Of course we know what the directive from Jesus is. We’re to love our enemies, to do good to them, to pray for them, and therefore be “perfect” as well as merciful, as our heavenly Father is perfect and merciful. We’re not to try to get revenge, but leave justice in God’s hands. At the same time, we should be like Jesus and Stephen who emulated Jesus in his death. Praying for our enemies right to the end, not for God’s vengeance, but for his mercy to them. That they might be forgiven.
As for those who are named among the faithful and yet essentially live as enemies, we’re to seek reconciliation. To do our part, and then to leave it in God’s hands.I consider being faithful to God and to the new covenant given to us in Christ, means to be faithful to each other as a brother or sister within the same family, the family of God. We should try to see the bigger picture around it, that perhaps they have a general problem which causes them trouble in other contexts. While wanting to be sensitive to whatever extent that may be true in our own life.
At any rate, we in Jesus need to show the world the difference following Jesus makes. A difference which involves loving the unlikeables, even those who are our enemies. Continuing to forgive those who continue to wrong us, that we might be forgiven, and bear the message of forgiveness and reconciliation in Jesus to the world. Together in Jesus for the world.