Love your enemy

This is written by Jeannine Boulter who has been at St Mary's for ages, is married to Tom and mum to Bruno and Oona.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reflection

Well this is a pretty sobering reminder that being a generally nice and kind person isn’t what being a Christian is all about. As Jesus points out, the majority of the human population is generally nice and kind. What sets his disciples apart is that they are nice and kind to people who have hurt / scared / wounded them, which, as my dad would say, is an entirely different kettle of fish.

How can we possibly do this?
 
Stop.


If I think someone has wronged me, I usually get all judgey about them. The subtext of the judgement is always the same: I am superior / better / right / amazing and they are inferior / worse / wrong / stupid. This initially makes me feel better, although not for long; it’s a sticking plaster for whatever wound it is I’ve suffered. Jesus tells us NOT TO DO THIS (Matthew 7). It’s hypocritical and distorted and not our remit.
 
Meditate.

Jesus, hanging on the cross, prayed for his enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” This is the power of the cross.

Pray.

In my limited experience, this kind of prayer is born out of sheer bloody-minded obedience. I’ve never felt ‘stirred’ or ‘moved’ to pray for the person; I’ve just had to start doing it anyway - usually out loud and usually, at first, in a shouty / aggressive manner. It’s a bit like jumping into freezing cold water (i.e. awful) but if you keep moving it starts to feel less awful after a bit. I never stay shouty / aggressive for very long. I think God is SO PLEASED that I’ve actually started to get on with the real business of loving someone that he quickly begins the transformative process of forgiveness. He absolutely loves this kind of thing.
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