Love Your Enemies

Of all of Christ’s teachings, this one was the most radical, and the most difficult for all Christians. Love your enemies. Wow. That’s a tough one. Sometimes it’s hard to love your relatives, much less those you don’t like.

On the anniversary of 9-11, that teaching is especially hard. How are we supposed to love the ones who hate us so much? How are we supposed to love the ones who hurt us so badly? The truth is we can’t on our own. That takes prayer and God.

Christ said to love our enimies for a good reason. Hatred eats at us. Hate only hurts us.

What happened to us on 9-11 makes me heartsick, but I don’t hate the terrorists. It took a long time, and a lot of prayer to come to that. But that is how we are called to be different. Christ never said it would be easy. He said it would be difficult. It is.

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All these years after 9-11, we have to ask ourselves if we have let our sorrow and anger about 9-11 affect how we feel about Muslims in general. Right after 9-11, we saw on TV the many Muslims celebrating that our towers went down. It was hard not to hate then. Like most Americans, I feel people should live the lives and the faith they wish. As long as that doesn’t intrude on the rights of others. But that day, and those images, made it difficult to look at Islam as just another religion. But we must seperate the ugly from the good.

Over the years we have seen many terrorists acts and deaths because of radical Islamists. And yet, we are called as Christians to love them. If we are called to love those so lost in hate and insanity, are we not also called to love those who simply practice Islam in peace? Of course.

This doesn’t mean we don’t fight against terrorists, and root them out. Of course we do. But it also means we pray for them. It also means we root out the hate we feel in our heart for them. That takes prayer as well.

We may disagree with the Muslim faith. We may wish they spoke out more against radicalism. We may be appalled at how they treat women. On a human rights level, we need to expose the wrongs, and change things. But as we are doing that? Prayer and love must be our guide. Can you open the eyes of others to wrongs if they feel you hate them? No. We must change our attitude toward Muslims if we want to change their attitude toward us. Let them see our love, not our mistrust.

America, whether we like it or not, is a part of Iraq now. The best way for people who are different from one another to get along is to get to know each other. The Middle East only really knows America through our movies and T.V. How terrible is that? We only know them through what we see on the news. But now that we are so heavily invested in Iraq, we are there. They have come to know us as people. We have started to know them.

This doesn’t mean we change any values we have. It just means we reach out. It just means that we understand that Muslims, like all people, are children of God. They are precious to Him. Love is our greatest bridge. It sounds trite, but it’s true. Love changes everything.

Many years ago I read Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place.” It was in reading that book I understood Christ’s teaching of love your enemy. Corrie was a Christian that hid Jews during the Holocaust. She and her family were caught and sent to a concentration camp. All of her family died there. You would think that she would have a deep hatred for the Nazis. But she chose love. Years and years later she actually came upon one of the guards that had treated her and her sister so badly. She told him she forgave him, and he broke down in tears. Love dissolves hate. Maybe you think he didn’t deserve forgiveness. Most of us do not. But God’s mercy reaches to the worst of us. Even those we call monsters.

This weekend, let us remember those we lost on 9-11. But as a legacy to them, we should let love be what moves us forward. Stand up for what you believe, but always do it in love.

It’s a tough one, I know. But if we let it, it changes us. It makes us better. It makes us see one another, however different, as God sees each of us. He sees us as His children. Each as precious as the other.

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