Friday, June 12, 2009

Our enemies are images of God

Thou shalt not hate.
God is Love.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Many times, we escape our Christian duty to love our neighbors as ourselves by reasoning that we don’t have to like our neighbor – which, maybe, is true – we just have to love them. We don’t have to have warm feelings about everyone. It’s not our feelings that count – feelings change – emotional states are not as significant as moral states. So goes our reasoning.

Above all, we should love God. It is only in loving God that we can love our neighbors and our enemies. Love is self-sacrifice for the sake of the beloved.

But should we like God? – not just love Him, but like Him? We cheapen love if we say no. A child understands that “liking” is less than “loving.” Love is the important thing. Love is the commandment. But can we love whom we dislike? Does love have liking as it’s foundation?

Whether or not it is necessary, it is Good to like God - to nurture warm feelings and not just give Him some abstract love – to give Him personal affection. It is important to have affection for God. It may even be necessary.

And if it is necessary to have affection for God, then it is necessary to have affection for our enemies. Affection – warm feelings – for those who hate us. Why? – because our enemies are images of God.

Our enemies are images of God. Our enemies are images of God.


Kevin said...

Affection for our enemies, as fellow-bearers of the God's Image...

Very profound. I think it is possible to oppose the evil in your enemies, even kill them if necessary, in defense of your loved ones and to keep your country free - and still have some respect for them as persons and even some affection for what is good in them.

I am posting a url to an article that conveys a powerful historical image of that idea.

dancingcrane said...

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matt. 5:44
"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish." Luke 6: 27, 35

Troubling, but God calls us most insistently to those things which are hardest for us to do.

We can 'do good' driven by guilt, fueled by resentment, doing it for the reward we expect to get back, to make ourselves feel good.

But only when we can open the eyes of the heart, to really see and love the other, only then, can we be truly 'doing good'. For them, or ourselves.

Thank you for the reminder.

chestertonian said...

Good post. John. Sometimes I think the most scandalous teachings in the Gospels are Christ's commands to love our neighbor and to pray for him, especially when he persecutes you.

Anonymous said...

It's tough to be humiliated mocked and ridiculed.Even tougher to take it in silence and thank the Lord in silence.Do we choose respect of men and fight or do we choose Jesus Christ and allow ourselves to be called cowards?Yes it's tough but if we are choosing respect of men we will most likely suffer in Hell for eternity.

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