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`Love your enemies'-- all of them!

HEARING news of yet another terrorist attack, I reacted with anger. Terrorism has to be the one exception to Christ Jesus' command ``Love your enemies,'' I said to myself. How could such a soft answer be a solution to this violence or a solace to those whose loved ones were its victims? Wrestling with this question proved to be an important time of prayer for me. It woke me up to my need to learn more of what Jesus meant by love. At times my love was similar to the love he said even sinners could give--love for those who loved me or, I had to add, those who agreed with me or were committed to the same ideals. As I thought about it, I saw that this is a status quo love. It won't break new ground; it won't bring healing where there is hatred. But Jesus didn't just say, ``Love your enemies''; he said, ``Pray for them which despitefully use you.'' 1 Pray for these terrorists? Jesus prayed for those who crucified him. But why? Was he counting on their willingness to come around when the best was expected of them? Was he forgiving them in order to create an atmosphere in which people might think more favorably of him? He had openly denounced his enemies for dishonesty, hypocrisy, greed, and prejudice. Was he now relieving them of responsibility for their actions? As I thought about his whole life--the healings he did and the demands he made --I could see that what impelled Jesus' prayer was not some last-ditch faith in people's good will or a willingness to let wrongdoers off the hook. His love and prayer for his enemies were the fullest possible acknowledgment that God, infinite good, is the only power. And against this power, not even the most malicious acts can stand. While Jesus forgave his enemies, he never attributed to them the destructive power they claimed to have. He acknowledged and bowed to but one will--the will of God, divine Love. And standing consistently for that omnipotent Love, he unfailingly expressed Love's healing, restorative power. When Peter tried to save Jesus from the crucifixion by drawing a sword against Jesus' captors, and when Pilate threatened him with his worldly powers, Jesus' response was to point to the only true source of might. His prayer of forgiveness embodied this same complete allegiance to God. Without this allegiance there would have been no resurrection. So when he commanded that we love, he was teaching us the basis for his healing work and for the solution to every challenge, no matter how threatening it might appear. Loving as Jesus taught, accepting God, good, as the only power and intelligence, brings to bear on our lives the omnipotence of God, the light of Truth, the purifying influence of divine Love. It reveals to us what is true--including the fact that man, as God has actually created him, is completely spiritual and without evil impulse. To those who resist this light of Truth, its purifying action may seem like a consuming fire. But as one yields to its demands, one feels its regenerating and transforming effect. While we cannot force others to yield, we can live love so obediently, so consistently, that the Christ, divine Love's healing power, is felt throughout our world. That is a prayer for our enemies. This prayer can open the door for a healing of the ills and injustices that breed terrorism as well as for a healing of its victims. Meanwhile, the love that hears and obeys God is our protection. We are less likely to be fooled into unknowing cooperation with whatever would deny God's presence and power. This denial is humanity's only enemy. Jesus exposed this enemy as ``a liar, and the father of it.'' 2 Paul named it ``the carnal mind.'' 3 And writing in this same vein, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``Whatever envy, hatred, revenge--the most remorseless motives that govern mortal mind--whatever these try to do, shall `work together for good to them that love God.' '' 4 1 Matthew 5:44. 2 John 8:44. 3 Romans 8:7. 4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 10.

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