Last night, as part of our initial conversation about “Everything Must Change,” Eric brought out the Biblical text of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the story of the “Good Samaritan” and “Love your enemies.” One of the things we attempt to re-think was asking who our neighbors were (thanks to Jaqualine who had heard a similar message at Riverview Church that morning)…and I began to wonder, “Who would be the samaritan of our age?” and “Who really is our enemy right now?” And I earnestly wonder this.
In a general way, we’ve understood our enemies to be those that threaten us, or our security. For the past few years, America has been told that its enemy is a group of people called “Al Queda” and specifically Osama Bin Laden. While I believe that there are people like this who earnestly see me and all my fellow countrymen as enemies, I wonder what loving them would look like. I wonder if God truly loves them, how does His love come to them through us?
In a more local context, who is our enemy in Lansing? I mean, our little ragamuffin simple church which meets in the west-side of Lansing Mi…who is threatening our security as a group? Who is threatening us at all? I also posed the question, “who are we making into enemies simply by doing what we are doing – and not doing what we should be doing?”
One thing I believe about the good news of Jesus is that it is not safe. Loving your enemies is not a safe thing to do. It’s part of this upside-down Kingdom that Jesus comes in and declares.
I postulated last night that quite often we are our own enemy when we fail to do what we are called to do, namely live out our life in the way of Jesus (a life in mission). Are we sabotaging ourselves when we don’t take in the homeless, feed the hungry, find jobs for the unemployed, help people out of debt, planting local gardens and the like? Are we the devil in our own midst?
Jesus warns of being like people who answer the door and see the hungry, feed them and send them on their way. Isn’t that what the Church has become known for? We get in our church vans, drive downtown, serve in soup lines and go back home. What’s the difference? – nothing.
Those are really wonderful things to do, but what are we doing to end hunger? It’s one thing to put a blanket on someone sleeping on a bench, and quite another to put them in your car, drive them to your house, and give them your own bed to sleep in.
That isn’t “safe” either, but are we in a sense loving the enemy out of ourselves this way?