Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” He never said, “Get in bed with them.”
I understand that’s a provocative statement, but it’s the truth. It is not only possible, but very important that we come to accept, understand and properly apply this commandment.
Jesus clearly demonstrated God’s boundless love for everyone by lovingly and compassionately speaking with a Pharisee and a prostitute in the same setting. He manifested God’s love and He spoke Truth; and He compromised with neither one of them. Jesus never implied that love means compromising with or agreeing with those who oppose God’s word, His truth or the principles He has clearly set forth.
It’s wise to ask how we identify the enemies we are commanded to love.
First: We don’t choose enemies, but we do recognize them. I am not talking about personality conflicts, discussions, debates or even disagreements. It is important to understand that people should be able to do all that without branding each other as enemies.
At the same time, if we stand for God’s truth, real enemies will come. As those who seek to follow Christ, trusting Him as Lord, we understand it is so. Perfect love walked on earth only once, and sinful man nailed that love to a cross. So we should not be surprised when those who stand boldly for the truth meet fierce opposition. If they did it to Him, they will do it to us.
Let’s recognize that reality without spoiling for a quarrel. We are not called to go make enemies. We are called to be salt and light in order to make a difference. One way we make a difference is by loving with God’s selfless, generous love those who hate.
Jesus’ great love for sinners brought harsh accusations from religious zealots, and from everyone who had made a god of something they believed, rather than actually knowing God and His truth. This has been true throughout history.
Truth is like a lion. While standing for truth and speaking it in love, we must expect enemies to emerge. When they do, we should respond by continually speaking the truth in love, but never wavering. And remember: like a lion, if you release it, truth will defend itself.
God tells us to make peace with our opponents, to go to those with whom we disagree and seek to reach an understanding. He is not, however, asking us to agree with wrongdoers in their wrongdoing. The apostle Paul told us that as far as possible, as far as it is in our power, we should “be at peace with all men.” Yet he also rebuked Peter to his face. Correction is actually a demonstration of love when done wisely and in the proper spirit.
There are many who live with their fists clenched in the face of God, who live for the gratification of their own appetites, who claim to be atheists, who live addicted and defeated. We shouldn’t respond to them in anger. I can honestly say that I love them. And we are called to love them.
But I do not, and should not, affirm their deceptive and destructive journey. The answer isn’t to shrug and talk nonsense about everyone finding “his own path.”
As C.S. Lewis taught, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic with delusions of grandeur, or Lord. I know him to be the Lord who loves everyone, including His enemies. Regardless of all the opposition on this planet, Jesus is not only the “exact representation of God’s nature” (Heb. 1:3), He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except by Him.” (John 14:6) I didn’t make up this statement; I am quoting the person who made it.
This is an often unpopular position to take in today’s world. Many release vicious anger toward anyone who quotes Jesus on this. But we must not shrink from it into a lazy “all-roads-lead-to-heaven” relativism.
No. Truth, God’s Word and His presence are a shelter from every storm, a shield from the assault of the enemy. Jesus is the only way to salvation, security and eternal life.
If some misguided traveler were headed toward a collapsed bridge, I would do everything in my power to stop him. I would do this as surely as I would try to save someone from a burning house.“Get them to safety!” is our cry.
So we answer the enemies of Christ with neither a shrug of indifference or a shaking fist. We answer with the way, the truth and the life.