Saturday, March 24, 2007

Love your enemies? Be kind to the ungrateful and the wicked?

Today's reading from the New Testament has one of those impossible assignments from Jesus:
35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6.35-36
I find these things, well... difficult. What does he mean by that, "Love your enemies"? Does he really mean what he says?

I read an account of what this might look like, in Ingermanson's novel Premonition, which depicts the execution of James, the Lord's brother, by the evil priests. He somehow manages to call out a blessing on the house of the evil head priest -- actually loving his enemy.

The effects? Well, the priest is temporarily disoriented, then he returns to evildoing. He was given an opportunity to change, but he didn't take it.

James, on the other hand, has an overwhelming sense of power and joy; he goes to his death rejoicing.

Or in the film End of the Spear, where missionaries are speared to death by misunderstanding Waodani tribesmen; they do not use their firearms to retaliate, but willingly die.

What kind of changes would have to happen in me to be able to do that? I have to believe it's possible, with help from the Holy Spirit, to actually obey that command. (I do not think that in the world to come, the Lord Jesus will say he was "just kidding with that ‘love your enemies’ stuff".) If someone like Osama bin Ladin or Saddam or that madman in North Korea were about to kill my family or me, would I have it in me to pronounce a blessing on him?

Well, I don't have it now, but I don't need it now. If it happens, I pray that I'll have it in me at that time. Because when we do see the Lord face to face, I want to hear that “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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