Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Who is My Enemy?

When we consider the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) we recall the lawyer who stood up seeking to test Jesus and justify himself, asking Jesus, ìWho is my neighbor?î and Jesus replied with the story of the Samaritan that journeyed by the wounded man and stopped to care for him, even though Samaritans were considered dogs, enemies. ìSo,î Jesus asked, ìwhich of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?î In so doing, Jesus expanded their perspective of who was their neighbor.

Jesus told his listeners, ìëYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,í and ëyour neighbor as yourself.íî Loving their neighbor didnít sound too bad until Christ challenged their idea of neighbor.

Now, instead of asking who is my neighbor, I want to ask you, who is your enemy? Yesterday, we read Matthew 5:44-45 where Christ commands his followers to love their enemies. It would be so easy to reverse the above situation. Rather than seeing our neighbor as someone close to us, relationally or geographically, Jesus broadens our perspective to include those that may not even be known or liked. Likewise, rather than seeing your enemy as someone remote from yourself that hates you and actively wars against you, would you consider with me those ìenemiesî that are close to you?

If you were to ask me if I had any enemies, I would be hard-pressed to name one. Are there people that are not fans? Yes. Are there people that I irritate? Yes. Are there people who would seek to avoid me? Yes. Are there people that disagree with me? Yes, even strongly disagree. Are there people of whom I am not a fan? Yes. Are there people that irritate me? Yes. Are there people who I may try to avoid? Yes. Are there people I disagree with, even strongly disagree with? Yes. Does that make them my enemy? Again, we are trying to apply the principle of ìwho is my neighborî in reverse. Could not my ìenemyî be closer than I think? I believe so.

What if we treated those close to us as our ìenemiesî biblically, when we disagree, argue, get angry or are in conflict? NOW STAY WITH ME BECAUSE IF YOU DRIFT HERE, YOU WILL COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTAND ME. All of us have times of opposition with those who are very near and dear to us. If we treated those dear ones as ìenemiesî according to Matthew 5, we would love them, bless them, pray for them and do good unto them which is far better than the way we are prone to treat those with whom we are in conflict, even family and friends. Am I right?

ìYou have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.î Matthew 5:43-45

Perhaps rather than asking ìWho is our neighbor?î we need to be asking ìwho is our enemy?î


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