A Difficult Love
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5: 43 – 44
I live in the blue-bubble of Seattle. We all hate Trump. We detest McConnell. We sent notes of appreciation and support to Christine Blasey Ford. We stand in long lines waiting to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates.
But in these tribal times, some words of Jesus have been niggling at me. Making me wonder about this emotionally juicy clarity.
After all, there is little that is clearer than the moral maxim Jesus cited as the prevailing norm of his own time and place: “Love your friends, hate your enemies.”
(Side note: you can apparently be a big-hearted loving person, loving your people and tribe extravagantly, and Jesus just might say, “I did not know you.”)
What does it mean to love our enemies in our time of brutal binaries?
It does not mean indifference to evil. It does mean restraining our own, all too human, impulses to demonize those we oppose, to exaggerate their flaws, to engage in recrimination and ridicule, to get hooked into the unending cycle of revenge. It means remembering that God also loves those we can’t abide.
Jesus, you are asking a lot.
You are also giving a lot. You never stopped loving me in all those times when I was your enemy.
It is so easy, Lord, to follow the way of the world, loving only those who love us, loving our people. Sow your trouble among amid our certainties. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.