When news began to surface about the anti-government protests in Egypt I knew that two things were about to happen:
- that talk of the end times or the last days would begin to ramp up.
- That America would find itself in a bit of a pickle.
I was right on both accounts. Within days I heard people (not on the Internet or TV/radio but live people who I was talking to face-to-face) start chaining together Israel and Egypt along with the weird weather in North America and in Australia, the Global Economy, etc. I have been through this too many times over the past 20 years.
I also followed the news intensely about America’s diplomatic concerns. On one hand the US is pro-democracy and generally supportive of “the will of the people”. On the other hand President Mubarac is reported to be of friend in the region to US concerns.
This had me thinking about the nature of alliances and enemies. My friend is taking a class this semester on war and pacifism. our talks along with some of the books he he is reading have really caused me to reconsider and rethink positions and opinions I have formulated over the last 20 years.
I was listening to a sermon on my iPod while I worked out and it happened to address some issues that Jesus brings up regarding how we treat those who don’t like us very much. I have no master plan or deep insight regarding the Egypt situation – and that is far outside my scope of commentary anyway – but I did have a thought about the nature of enemies.
Some people take the words of Jesus very seriously and they put forward a plan or program that makes it sound like we should have no enemies. That if we realized how God saw things, that we would realize our common humanity and that we would have no enemies.
This seems overly utopian to me.
Another group who takes the preservation of ChristianiTY very seriously put forward a plan or program that says we need to actively take on our enemies and give permission to fight fire with fire in order to prevail in the war of good vs. evil. This ultimately will culminate in Jesus coming back with a vengeance and finishing the job.
This seems like a grotesque hybrid between Imperialism and Escapism. It seems to have very little to do with the actual teachings of Jesus.
I was struck by the possibility of a third way, a uniquely Christo-centric focus. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Not just to love our neighbor (which is hard enough) but to love ourselves (also difficult to do properly) and our enemies.
Jesus did not say that we would have no enemies – but that we should love them. This is that thing about Jesus that continually surprised me. He navigates that middles road between extreme over-spiritualization and sheer co-opting of worldly ways for heavenly purposes.
He is neither utopian nor is he justifying violence or encouraging escapism .
We have enemies. That is not what makes us different. It is how we treat our enemies that is to distinguish us as Christians.