TWJ Week 3: Loving your enemy

Published 10 July 2018

Excerpts taken from Becoming Human

To love one’s enemy is not just a spiritual reality, but something essentially human. All of us who think about peace, or even about the simple act of being human and of the process of growing towards maturity, must take this call to love our enemies seriously. This is a call to change, to no longer be controlled by our hurts and fears, but to enter instead into a truer relationship with those whom we dislike.

But to love those we dislike or even hate seems impossible. How can we love our enemies? Will they not just eat us up if we appear weak and vulnerable before them? How can be we open to someone who wants to curb our lives and our freedom? Life protects itself from death. If we see a stone hurtling towards us, don’t we instinctively protect ourselves? How can we be open to someone who we think wants to hurt us physically or psychologically?

The love of one’s enemy is at the heart of the Christian message. Jesus says forcefully, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, speak well of those who speak badly of you, and pray for those who abuse you.’ (Luke 6:27-28)

I found these words to be particularly helpful in the current political climate. Never has the country been more polarized than it has been in the past decade, and as the days progress, the concept of cooperation becomes more and more infeasible. It can be very difficult to reconcile negative feelings towards those who think or believe differently than you. However, it is critical to try and live a life that is governed by love instead of fear. Fear is what drives us to notice differences and separate ourselves; fear makes it easier to isolate oneself. It is only when one starts to live like this that the idea of loving one’s enemy becomes possible. What is your definition of the word “enemy?” What makes your enemies, your enemies? How can you take the steps away from fear?