“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
This is an explosive, controversial and often ignored statement made by Jesus. In a world that reacts to violence with violence, it is also a powerful and redeeming statement.
I struggle when I see a Christian with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other, is that what Jesus meant when he said those words? Personally I aim to pursue non-violence. I hesitate to call myself a pacifist as this can be interpreted as a non-active posture. Craig Greenfield discusses this in ‘Subversive Jesus’.
“No one, not even our worst enemy, is beyond redemption; and true transformation is complete only when the oppressors are transformed as well as the oppressed. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.”
“War does not bring peace. It always ignites the desire for greater violence and revenge in the hearts of our enemies – and so begins the vicious, never-ending cycle of retaliatory violence.”
For us to embrace the vulnerability of non-violence we need to stop seeing the world as them and us and start to see it as ‘we’ humans. In a world where terrorism is encouraging fearful, wall-building politicians there are no easy answers. I don’t know what the best non-violent method would be to counteract the darkness but I do know that violence isn’t the answer. It’s been said that “It is only when mosquitoes land on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to solve problems without using violence!”
Lets think about this topic on a smaller, closer to home scale. We all have the natural instinct of ‘fight-or-flight’ built into us when it comes to conflict. Some of us are conflict avoiders, whereas others love a good fight. Is there a third-way to deal with inter-personal issues? How can our vulnerability help us to move forward together?
“As followers of Jesus, we need wisdom to know how to subvert tense situations by responding with love and vulnerability. Jesus opposed evil without mirroring evil, modelling for us a transformative pathway of humility and love.”
When dealing with our enemies are we willing to be humble and honest? Are we willing to truly listen to the pain and hurt of the other person? Are we able to share our own feelings and brokenness?
In her excellent book ‘Daring Greatly’ Brene Brown suggests that:
“Ordinarily, when we reach out and share ourselves – our fears, hopes, struggles, and joy – we create small sparks of connection. Our shared vulnerability creates light in normally dark situations.”
She concludes her book stating that:
“Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times.”
May we be courageous and love our enemies. May we be vulnerable in our interactions with each other. May we all be continually redeemed and transformed into the people God hopes us to be.