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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Sunday, February 13

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
—Luke 6:27

There was a time in my life when I thought I had failed as a Christian if I had enemies. Of course I was taught all about THE Enemy, but I thought if I made people mad enough to become personal enemies, somehow I had failed in Christian life and practice. I failed to confront issues because I knew it would make enemies, and “nice” people (i.e. Christians) didn’t have enemies.

I don’t know why it eluded me that even Jesus had enemies…serious enemies…want-to-kill-you enemies. If those who followed Jesus weren’t supposed to have enemies, what was this verse for anyway? My eyes were opened. Of course having my eyes opened didn’t make living by this verse any easier. When you think about enemies, an abundance of love is not what you think of first. I was stuck again, not able to imagine mustering warm, fuzzy feelings for those who actively worked to do me harm.

Then I realized that Jesus is not defining love by feeling and emotion. Love for the enemy, just like love of neighbor, is defined by action. If my enemy is in trouble, I can either dance in the streets and gloat or swallow my feelings and help. The way of Christ is the latter.

It doesn’t matter much that I don’t feel like helping, or even that I’m disgusted by helping. It doesn’t matter if the help is accepted or appreciated or reciprocated. The attempt is what sets apart those who seek to live the Jesus life.

It isn’t easy. Most of us are still working on loving our friends and family. Love of our enemies seems like an unrealistic goal. But really, it is the same goal as loving those close to us. It isn’t about feeling, it’s about action, and Jesus asks us to act in the same charitable way with everyone we meet, friend or foe.

God of our enemies, may we remember your love in the face of hate. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.