Written by Steven Liechty
"But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." - Luke 6:27-31
One of the things that bothers me about the way we call a church a "family" is its denial of these words of Jesus. People love to compliment themselves on how much they love their families. "We are like family" is used to evoke intimacy, love, and bonding. Never mind what that phrase means to people whose families are bondage, not bonding. "Family" language becomes an unintentional, unconscious act of exclusion: if you aren't like family or don't even want to be like family, you don't really deserve love.
The exclusionary impoliteness is not the largest problem in understanding this text. The larger problem is the commandment of Jesus--to those who listen--that we love our non-family the way we love our family. We are to even love the ones that threaten our family. This commandment wreaks havoc with our response to threats of all kinds. It will also mess with your mind if you think about it for two minutes: I myself find it very hard to love people who don't agree with me politically. I guess I'm not listening to Jesus. Or if I am listening, I can't bear to hear.
The gospel of love is not sentimental. It is also not just for families.
O God, sit with me for a while and feel with me how hard it is for me to love my enemies. Then give me a big push and let's see what happens. Amen.