Love Your Enemies

Matt. 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Commentary

It appears that every major religion of the world struggles with the concept of how to respond to those who have been labeled as “enemies” or as NVC would say “enemy image.” This passage attempts to address this religious dilemma. You will notice that the first verse delivers a message regarding how many have been taught to respond. If someone is your enemy “hate” them. This would include treating them poorly, talking about them in a manner that is negative, and of course, killing them. It seems if we judge someone our enemy then they have now become less than us, even less human, and dangerous. This type of evaluation gives rise to the opportunity to harm the other person or people and do so without any kind of connection to feelings and needs, ours or the others – after all, they were less than human. I refer to this as space invaders mentality. You remember that game? Space invaders were coming to earth from outer space and you as the player had to save the earth by destroying all the space invaders. It was alright to do this because they were not human and they were the evil ones invading our planet. We have been trained to have this attitude toward someone we deem to be our enemy. They are less than us and “deserve” any punishment we can give to them. The author of this text understood this was not the response that Christ attempted to communicate with those around him. However, the author did somewhat of the same concept theology. The author demanded that “we” love our enemy. He goes even a step further by stating not only love your enemy but also be perfect. The conjunction would be that if we love our enemy we are on our way to perfection. The concept seems to be if we practice what we deem to be “Christ-like” behavior then we will be more Christ like.   It sounds as though the author is experiencing fear and truly wanted to contribute to those around him and those who would read this text.

Empathic Translation

Matthew 5:43-48

You have been trained and taught to love only those who you think love you and to hate those you have judged to be lesser than you because of something they have done that you have evaluated as wrong. But I say to you, when you are connected to your feelings and needs you are able to see the other person in a different light. You realized that you connect with the divine when you connect with the other person. Life happens to everyone, when we connect to ourselves and others we have our “reward” we are in the presence of the Divine – we are able to experience the Divine within and to see the Divine in the other and everyone’s needs are met. There is no enemy, there is compassion and love. That is Divine and that is perfection.

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