Have you ever had someone say something to you so profound, something so epiphanal, that after you get your bearings you realize you are now seeing through a lens of newfound clarity? I love it when that happens. It is so jarring that it strips away yet another layer of grave clothes, leaving us more free than we were just a few seconds earlier.
Such was the conversation I had recently with my pastor Randy Draughon. As we sat with our coffee, catching each other up on the latest happenings in our lives, he unleashed this powerful little nugget (something he seems to do with uncanny regularity):
“If the enemy can get me to hate, then I lose sight of the deepest call on my life, which is to love.”
Wow, I don’t know if I physically shook my head but I felt as though I did as I stopped to consider his seemingly off the cuff remark. Sure I know we are to love. Jesus said it very clearly in Luke 10:27 (NLT) “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.”
And then there are those two little verses four chapters earlier, “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:35-36 NLT)
I have known that we are to “love our enemies” but there in that little coffee shop in Nashville God gave me the why. It is not only for the benefit of “those who persecute us” (Matthew 5:44) but it is for us. Loving our enemy IS about pointing them to the source of Love, but it is also to keep us from conditioning our heart to hate, thereby robbing us of “the deepest call on [our] lives” – love.
Those who knew me as a child will still talk about how I constantly asked “why?” So much so that it earned me the nickname in the neighborhood “Tommy Why Frye.” Often we read God’s Word and hear His instructions and if we are not careful we can distract ourselves with the why and in our distraction easily be convinced that we are tasked with the impossible.
However, God’s commands are not meant to burden us (1 John 5:3), but to free us! Loving allows us to be lead by God rather than be distracted by our fears. Loving helps us to look beyond the offense and the offender and see a wounded soul in need of a Savior. Loving frees us to not be bound by hate, which leads to death, but rather more effectively live out our greatest calling.
Truly loving our enemy can seem difficult. But as with all of God’s commands freedom is found when we learn to live beyond ourselves.