loving your enemy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's more than a summer of love.

That entails a lot.

It means not looking at love as the surface word we see it as today.
It means understanding that "loving" pizza and "loving" your Lord and Savior can be really different things.
It is a summer to dig deep into that four letter word that tends to confuse today's society.
It means you have to think about the hard things.

And that's what I've done this week.

"You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"

Um, hold up Jesus. Back up, rewind, and say that again. You are telling me to love my enemy? Could those two words be more opposite? I can't do that. You're crazy.

Jesus was more than a little crazy. That single verse could possibly be one of the most radical things Jesus said in his time on earth. It's something that is so incredibly radical, still today. How many people do you encounter that love their enemies? I know few to none. I know more people obsessed with revenge, stuck on the idea of getting even. And I think I've slipped into that category more than one time. I struggle with this so much. I don't understand how to do what Jesus asks of us in this verse.

How am I supposed to love someone who broke my heart.
How am I supposed to love someone who picked on me all throughout school.
How am I supposed to love someone who constantly puts me down.
How am I supposed to love someone who doesn't care about me.
How am I supposed to love someone who wants to destroy others.
How am I supposed to love someone who hates other people.
How am I supposed to love someone who kills other people.
How am I supposed to love someone who is a racist.
How am I supposed to love someone who is a terrorist.
How am I supposed to love someone who calls themselves a follower of God, and then denies their neighbors land, religious rights, and freedom.
How am I supposed to love someone who pulls a gun on a movie theater full of people at a midnight showing of the Dark Knight and kills 12.

Aurora, CO.

What happened last Thursday night has had me thinking about this idea of loving our enemies. All I've been reading on the news is the Colorado massacre. The lives lost. The situation as it unfolded in the early hours of Friday morning. And the audacity and fear that this man put in the lives of those people. The man who pulled that gun out and killed people. Intentionally ended another person's life, for the sake of his own. And all I've been feeling is who does that. Who thinks that is okay, who sees any progress or something gained from this. I don't understand people who think this is okay.

I don't want to love him.

I don't want to pray for him, this person who's mug shot has a smirk on it that says "Yeah, I did this. I did it. I did it."I don't want to have any compassion on this person. I don't know how any person could do any of that.

But if Jesus was still on this earth, if he walked with all of us now, he wouldn't. He could go to him, he would invite him into his home, and he would show him love. He wouldn't do the mainstream and react to him with anger and hatred. Jesus was the master of loving his enemies. I just wish I could do the same. I wish I had the power, energy, strength, whatever it is that enables him to do this so well, inside of me so I could model this area of my life after Christ perfectly.
Micayla Medek, 23, was also among the dead, her father's cousin, 
Anita Busch, told the Associated Press. Busch said the news, while heartbreaking, was a relief for the family after an agonizing day of waiting for news. 
"I hope this evil act ... doesn't shake people's faith in God," she said.
This morning I read an article on Yahoo! News covering the first official list released of the names of the victims, along with family reactions.  This quote stopped me. I hope this evil act doesn't shake people's faith in God. You know, God created that person. God made the man - not for something like this, not to instill fear into other people's lives, but had a plan for him. A plan for good, and not for evil. So who I am to think any less of him because he got off track of the path God set for him? Don't I do that too? Maybe not as far as this, but I've gotten myself into some terrible stuff as well.

And if all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, then I can't think of him any less than others. Which means I have to treat him the same and love him the same. As hard as that idea is, I can't let this evil act allow my faith in God to shake. Because God calls me to love my enemy, and if this person is now the enemy of Aurora, of the US, and of the greater community of believers, then love needs to be present in this situation.

I was flipping through my scribble book last night, reading over notes from my semester spent abroad, reliving memories of long lectures, incredible guest speakers. I had scribbled down a quote in my notebook from a lecture where we heard from a Palestinian NGO interested in reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. What our speaker said struck me.

"I see no greater challenge in the term 'love your enemy' than in relation to Palestinians and Israelis, and vice versa."

I am missing my time abroad. I am missing the new adventures, the fresh, clean feeling of being somewhere I had never been before, and I miss the challenges in the Middle East. Perhaps none as big as this. I pray one day that reconciliation will find their way to the Palestinians and Israelis, but what hit me most about this quote is that it was described as a challenge.

This is a challenge.

Geez, and what a challenge it is.

But thinking things over the past couple days, I've come to realize that life is a challenge. God calls us to the great and small, to the intimidating and the victory-educing, but he does so out of love. He loves us and wants us to grow, and in order for us to do that, we must endure and succeed through the challenges to the best of our ability.

This summer, I am accepting the challenges He is putting into my life.
I am facing them head on, knowing that it can not and will not shake my faith in God.
I am taking them down, one by one.
Growing, learning, struggling, crying, and becoming stronger every step of the way.

Maybe God is asking you to take on a challenge of your own as well.

Respectfully submitted,


  1. Leah,

    This has been the challenge I accepted going into Westmont college. You are a beautiful, smart amazing woman and I am so excited and ecstatic for you and your journey with God and punching Satan in the nose everytime you accept a challenge and defeat one.

    Love and Blessings,