“Love your enemies”
“Love your enemies”, Jesus says. He doesn’t say, “don’t worry, you don’t have any enemies.” For he knows only too well about our enmities and hatreds. Yet, “love your enemies,” he says. How utterly impossible, it seems!
We have the hardest time imaginable loving the more obvious and, dare one say, more ordinary objects of love: our friends and family, our country and world, our God and Saviour. How can we be commanded to love those that have set their faces, their hands, and their hearts against us?
Yet, the demands of the Gospel are precisely impossible because our ordinary loves are equally impossible. They are all the places of our enmity, too. We are defined by our loves and so by our hatreds too. For what are our hatreds, but our loves in disarray?
Our enemies, after all, are rarely far-off and faceless. They are frequently only too close at hand. Their faces are only too often mirrored by our own. We are at enmity with ourselves, with one another and with God. It is no good pretending that our hearts are not touched by such enmities when our hearts are precisely the places of enmity. We have seen the enemy and it is us! But it is precisely in the face of these enmities – these animosities in the soul – that we are bidden, indeed, commanded to love.