Go Love an Enemy?

Go Love an Enemy and Call Me in the Morning
An encounter from my early days of pastoring has recently come to mind, perhaps because I don’t yet understand it. This happened in the early 70’s at a church that had just called me as pastor. Speaking with one of the members, the name of one of the other members came up and I complimented that other member (something I thought was a nice thing to do) for the positive things they had recently said about the future of the church. Little did I know that these two people were enemies of one another. In my novice state as a young pastor, I felt quite flustered by the harsh response to my conversation. From then on, the person I was speaking with seemed not to trust me. They had immediately responded with criticism of their “enemy” and of me for having any good thing to say about him. “I think you need to be looking to God for advice about this church rather than to ______.”
I assured him that I was looking to God, but he didn’t seem settled about the whole thing. I thought about this encounter a great deal, and apparently I still do, after all these years. I had grown up in a peaceful home, and since becoming a Christian at age 16 I had been around other believers who were peaceful. Encouragement was the name of the experience in the small college town church where I was before going to my first pastorate. I had had a few years of evangelistic preaching behind me, and also couple of years of pastoral work behind me, but this was a shocking experience. Saying something nice about someone had gotten me in more trouble than saying something not nice would have done. What about our enemies? Jesus said to love our enemies. How is this all supposed to work? Well, I don’t think it worked out so well for these two people, and unfortunately, the man I had complimented at first, and often after those first days, had also made himself my enemy by the time I left this church and moved to another. I was not his enemy, but he had decided he would be an enemy to me.
I have learned a lot since then about human relationships, but mysteries abound. Fast forward to present time when, a few days ago at my favorite church to attend when I am not preaching somewhere, the pastor (John Lockhart) opened up a beautiful truth. He was talking about Hermeneutics, a big word for the ways we interpret things; in this case, scriptures. He observed that in all his years of reading books about hermeneutics, he had not seen anyone write that “Obedience” was a great way of interpreting scripture. You see, sometimes Jesus says, “Come and learn…”, and at other times he says, “Go and learn this…”. When he says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”, (Luke 6:27) it sure sounds like something experiential is supposed to follow. First, we Hear, really Hear… then Go find an enemy and love them. Wow, that’s a tough calling.
Do I recommend this track to anyone who comes to my office asking what to do about their enemy? This kind of love takes a lot of skill, and it can and should be done with care for ourselves and our boundaries. But, it can be done. So, if it gets back to your enemy that you have said something nice about them, maybe they will realize you have been with Jesus.

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