Who are our enemies? Do we have them? How should we behave toward our enemies? In today`s reading we remember how Jesus instructed us to love our enemies and not to judge others. This is a very difficult instruction to obey. We live in the world that is full of injustice. Many times when we try to be good and to do all the right things we experience by many other people inconveniences of various kind. At our workplace we might have an unfriendly boss, a jealous colleague or being surrounded with people who are discriminative against us. People who might not love us for no reason. People who mind our religion, or our sexual orientation, or our freedom, or some physical characteristics. They might behave very unfriendly. We all experienced having enemies at all levels. Since childhood, in the school, at the college or later on a workplace. One difficult thing to do as a Christian is to love your enemies. This can be very difficult if a person do something which is really evil to us. If you are a child who is bullied at school by your peer school mate, how could you love him? If you work somewhere and your colleague is irrespective, arrogant, talking negatively about you to other colleagues. How could you love him? Or if your neighbor has secretly broken your window just because you are different skin color, sexual orientation, a member of different religion, different nation and you feel hated and discriminated against, how can you love that person?
Have you ever wondered how could we really love our enemies? When Jesus said – love your enemies it was so easy for him to say. But in real life it seems to be much easier if he told us to do anything else like – ignore your enemies, curse your enemies or punish your enemies and revenge. Since this is not easy let`s see what the Bible says,
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In the first part of this sermon we defined that we can have our enemies everywhere. In our neighborhood, at school, at work, and other places. We remembered that many people could be very unfriendly to us and do bad things to us. And we were wondering how we could love our enemies. We all know that this is really hard. And we should admit that. In my own experience being Christian is not easy because our nature is evil. We naturally want to revenge, we cannot simply love our enemies. And Jesus knew that. This is why He gave us an explanation on why should we love our enemies. And here in Jesus` words we might find the deeper meaning and the sense of why it is good and how we could successfully manage to love people who would we naturally hate. Take a look at those few sentences:
- Do to others as you would have them do to you…
- Then your reward will be great…
- Forgive, and you will be forgiven…
Does this makes sense to you now?
Loving our enemies is exactly what God has to do with us on the first place. Since the sin that we naturally do as being part of sinful nature makes us His enemies. He would naturally hate us, revenge to us and do bad to us because naturally we do things against God`s will on daily level. Consciously and unconsciously we sin. And our sin makes us God`s enemies. If we meditate on those tree sentences. First do to others as you would have them do to you. It moves to focus not to our enemies but to us. It shows us that it is good not for our enemies, but it is good for us when we love our enemies. Now there is even more sense in the next sentence when Jesus promises `your reward will be great`. It all makes sense now, right? We are not just fools who love our enemies that are treating us badly knowing that they will be treating us that way to eternity. We love them because we know that God is to revenge, not we. We forgive them because we know that God is to forgive and to them and to us. Next God promises `Forgive and you will be forgiven`. I remember the book that I read almost 15 years ago. The book was written by a Christian monk from the Holy Mount Atos in Greece. His name was Paisios. In his interview about loving enemies he said some things that were very useful for me and even today after 15 years I often remember his words. He said that everything happens with some reason. And even if God allows some enemies to come in our life that could also be happening with a reason. Sometimes it is not good for us something that we do, something that we want or that we are focus to and God let`s our enemies to damage our own plans. At the moment when that happens we are angry, we are furious and we want those enemies to be removed from our life. But Paisios advises us to wait and see what God will do. And always after some time in the future you will see and you will understand why God let those people in your life. As in the school. A child needs to have many lessons. Some lessons are interesting, super fun and very creative. Others seem to be boring, unpleasant, even not useful. A child would rather escape from those classes. But, all lessons are part of educational program. This is the same in our life. We meet people who we love and who love us, and we also meet people who behave as our enemies and people who do not love us. But they are all a part of our life experience. We could always learn something good through this experience. And let us wait to see what God will do. In the past when I was 20, 25 or 30 years old, loving my own enemies was a very unrealistic task. After I gained some life experience, now after my 35th birthday when I sit alone, think, and analyze many situations that I had in my life with my enemies. I can see that God was always there to intervene. I can see good things in things that looked very bad to me at that time. Those were all lessons. In the end, I don`t want to sound like a very wise super easy-to-do Christian. The truth is it is not easy. The truth is it is difficult. The truth is loving our enemies is something that we must learn through practice. But the truth is also that there is sense in doing so. We will be rewarded, we will be forgiven and God will deal with it. Whatever it is. Just wait for the God, and just leave it to God. As Greek monk Paisios advised.