As my kids get older, I notice patterns in their thinking and behavior. For example, they run the other way when anything is said about chores. I have picked up on other patterns, too. My youngest daughter is very sweet and optimistic. However, do not get on her bad side. I have learned that there are some people who she just does not like. Fortunately, I am on her good list.
One night, she was telling me about someone at school she was upset with. As her dad and her pastor, I knew that I had some bad news that I had to deliver to her. I said, “Cadyn, you know how in church we talk about God loves everyone? Well, God expects us to do the same thing. In fact, Jesus actually said to love your enemies.” I then told her about Luke 6:27-31 (NIV), which says “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
I could tell she was at a loss for words. It is hard to argue with anything that Jesus says so plainly! She said, “Well!” Then, she walked off. That is the reaction I usually get when I remind people about what Jesus asked of us. I really think he meant all that business. What did Jesus do to his enemies when he was dying on a cross? He prayed for them and forgave them. He did not just talk the talk.
Think about your life for a moment. Who are your enemies? A lot of times, we make enemies out of people who have committed small sins against us, but we will not let go of the situation. Sometimes, our enemies have really caused us great harm. Those people can be even harder to love. I sure would like to ask Jesus HOW I am supposed to love some people.
In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott said, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” She is kind of right. Maybe that is what Jesus was getting at when he talked about loving your enemies. It will do you as much good as anyone else!