In the Bible, Jesus says to “Love your enemies.” This is the sort of thing in the Scriptures that we’ve heard several thousand times and sounds very spiritual and evolved. But sometimes…
Well, you know the song “Irreplaceable,” by Beyoncé? When it was released, it was in constant rotation. You could hear it almost any time of the day or night on one of the local pop radio stations. (It’s like Olivia Rodrigo – right now, I can guarantee that you can find one of her songs on one of the presets in your car.) But in listening to it so much, “Irreplaceable” lost something. It didn’t lose it’s shine, we just lost our sensitivity to the light. It was still AWESOME (listen to it again, I promise you’ll remember how much you love it), we just fell asleep. It was so familiar, it became routine background noise instead of soul-rattling.
There are lots of things like this. Seinfeld. Endgame. The Beatles. Your spouse. Your kids. Steph Curry. Kisses. Pizza.
Loving your enemies is a topic we talk about in churches where we all nod and pretend that we understand and have checked off a to-do list long ago. Yeah, yeah, love your enemies. Now what?
The problem is that this pretense is all well & good, right up until the point where we actually have an enemy. (Well, once we have an enemy AND are finally unable to successfully hide it behind some imaginary religious self-righteousness.) With this enemy’s face forefront in our minds taunting us, reminding us how awful he/she is, the true impact of His words is revealed. And it is here, right here, that we discover that we don’t in fact like this passage at all.
Like “Irreplaceable,” it was so familiar, it became unfamiliar. Unknown. Totally Foreign. We forgot that this is a shockingly humongous ask. It’s practically impossible. Which, I’m well aware, is probably the point. And this impossible dream is very easy to miss as long as we continue this ridiculous practice of image-making, masquerading as perfect plastic people.
The truth is, there are quite a few real-life enemies walking around hurting those we love (hurting our friends and family is waaay worse than hurting us, right??) over and over and over and over on purpose. They are psychopathic in their malice and leave a wide path of wreckage in their wake. Love them? Is that really the command?
Yes, it is. Maybe I don’t love mine, at least not today, but I’m finally hearing the song, and that’s something.