Life Notes—March 21, 2013
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36
Think following Christ is easy? Try this scripture on for size: “…love your enemies, do good…expect nothing in return.” I have few enemies, although there are a number of people I don’t particularly like. I engage well with most people and am blessed to call many different people from many different backgrounds and locations my friends. As I contemplated this scripture, wondering what God might have to say to me about it, an interesting question occurred to me: Who is my enemy?
It seems a simple question that should be easily answered. But I struggled with it. Certainly there are many people whose behavior has disappointed me. There are those who have unfairly taken advantage of me. In my younger days my heart was broken a few times. Some have made false accusations against me. In my business there are competitors who seem to play by inferior rules, giving themselves an unfair advantage over more principled colleagues. But are any among them my enemy? None of them are trying to kill me, at least not literally (at least not to my knowledge).
Those who disappoint remind me expectations are sometimes out of line with reality. Being taken advantage of teaches me how to better deal with others, as well as the true value of what I have to give. Heartbreaks of the past showed me that love worth experiencing does not come without risk and vulnerability. Being accused falsely helps uncover the pain of the accuser, for often those in pain tear others down to make themselves feel better. They don’t need anger in return, but compassion. Finally, in business, competition drives us to newer and more innovative ways to do what we do. So, again, who among these is my enemy? I may not like them, but I learn from them.
Most often, my enemies are imaginary. My thoughts wander and I play out various scenarios of hurt and cruelty and I imagine various sorts of evil that I rarely, if ever, experience. My biggest and perhaps only true enemy is very close—it is me. So loving my enemies—real or perceived—is an important habit to develop. Maybe living as a Christian isn’t so much harder after all; maybe it’s just living smarter.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. Tom returns to preach the downtown services: Life worship at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch is preaching at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. The sermon is “Give Up Pettiness for Lent,” based on Luke 6:32-36.
Come home to church this Sunday. Bring your best enemy…
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator