Saturday, January 12, 2013

Love your neighbor, Love your enemy.

Love your neighbor.  Love your neighbor like you love yourself.

 Love your enemies.  Pray for them.

Who said those words?

I think you know.

Jesus did.

I am going to draw from these words a few ideas.  I might even offend you a little.  I hope you don't mind.  My husband and I were talking about those words the other night and we got into a really heavy discussion.  I know that Christians and non hear those words and even non Christians know who said them.  Even non Christians generally promote the "Golden Rule".  But who is your neighbor?  The person who lives next door?  The man or woman in the cubicle next to yours?  The liberal, pro choice college student activist who shares the bus with you?  All of the above.  We were told to love our neighbors, not just tolerate them.  LOVE them.  Strong words as they are.  And if that wasn't strong enough, not only love them, but love them like you love yourself.  It's easy to tolerate somebody you share space with.  It;s easy to be nice and pleasant and smile at them but not really ever talk to them and go about your day, isn't it?  I think we often find ourselves in the mindset of "I am loving my neighbor because I tolerate them."  That's not enough.  Tolerating somebody and loving somebody are far apart.  What does it mean to love somebody who is less than tolerable?  And not only love them but love them the way we love ourselves?  Let it sink in.  The question goes deeper.  Love your enemies.  This is a mind blower.  An enemy is generally somebody you loather, hate or wish ill will upon.  In fact the definition of an enemy as told by



noun, plural en·e·mies, adjective.
a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activitiesagainst another; an adversary or opponent.
an armed foe; an opposing military forceThe army attacked the enemy at dawn.
a hostile nation or state.
a citizen of such a state.
enemies, persons, nations, etc., that are hostile to one another 

Pretty strong words.  Pretty strong meaning behind those words.  As Christians we often love our "enemies" on our own terms.  We make it all about looking redeemable from our end of the deal.  "Oh look at me, i'm so pious over here loving my enemy, look at me."  We make loving others an act of self resurrection.  We make it seem like we are somehow better people because we can love the people that irk us.  We define our "enemy" as somebody that "I don't like, I cant stand".  The truth is, though, the Christian religion has lots of enemies and we aren't loving them at all.  We angrily argue and slander those that do not subscribe to our set of religious ideals.  Muslims.  Gay people.  Pro-Choice activists.  Atheists.  Those groups are generally considered "enemies" to Christians.  People get so heated and angry at the issues that they disagree on that they show those people anything but love.  Guess what?  You are called to love them,  Not only that, but love them like you love yourself.  Love them like you love your own body, your own self, your own health and well being.  We look at people in those type groups and judge them solely based on their affiliation.  Jesus could look at us and judge us all based on our affiliation, too.  We are all affiliated sinners.  But he doesn't.  He looks at us and takes those labels away.  He scraps the stereotypes of people's social and religious groups and looks at them as people.  Human beings that all have a need to be loved.  That's the essence of people who are sinners, which we all are.  We all want to be loved, to be accepted.  To be important and necessary in this world   Jesus makes us necessary.  His love makes us love in return.  Want to blow the mind of fundamentalism everywhere?  Invite your Muslim neighbor over for dinner and cultivate something based on what you have in common.  Jesus loves you both.  His love is what you have in common.  Show that love.  Share that love.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Loving your neighbor and your so called enemies is stronger than the things you may disagree on.  When somebody sends you a charged e-mail about why America is falling apart or how dangerous the gay agenda is, refuse to participate in damaging and festering e-mail gossip and slander.  Instead, seek out those people and show them Jesus's love. Show them that Jesus loves them as individuals, and let God do the rest.  In conclusion I guess, the reason for my writing this is that I am tired of people I love very much sending me e-mails that perpetuate a fundamentalist agenda for different things when they are missing the point.  You can't send a letter of hate against a group of people and then try and excuse it under the name of Christianity.  It doesn't work like that.  Stop e-mailing me junk and start acting the way Jesus wants you to act towards "those people" that are "so wrong" about everything.  Jesus sat down and had dinner with "Those people".  He died for them, too.      

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