Loving one’s enemies is quite a challenging effort to make, especially in today’s society with its politicking and mob-thinking and “my way or the highway” mentalities. You’ll find a lot of resistance, but I assure you, when you start treating your enemies as your brothers and sisters, it’s more rewarding than possessing all the snarky come-backs in the world in your arsenal, whether you’re a Christian or not. In fact, I highly recommend it, although it can be painful at times.
So what’s so great about loving your enemies? Why did Jesus Christ make it such a great commandment? Did He want us to suffer by enduring such a hard task?
Well, many great movements in the past sprouted with the message of love at their forefronts. Martin Luther King Jr. with civil rights is a good example. Aside from being a beautiful and articulate piece of writing, his “I Have a Dream” speech was woven repeatedly with the thread of love. He rebuked some civil rights activists for wanting to lash back more aggressively at segregationists, insisting that all protests be peaceful, and that by showing love to the enemies of the civil rights movement, they could change their hearts rather than reinforce their hatred.
I firmly believe that love is what ultimately changes hearts and creates friendships from enmity. Not debate, not violence, nor even legislation. Love is a powerful tool.
I also find that when you begin to love those you used to hate, and love those who curse you, you’re actually completely liberated. Hatred creates stress, high blood pressure, digestive distress, stomach ulcers, and a whole host of emotional and mental health issues. Wasting your time dwelling on your anger towards someone does nothing but make you feel awful. But if you flip the coin and decide to forgive them and extend a hand of friendship towards them, even if they reject you, they are the ones who remain burdened, not you. And, you know, one-sided anti-pathy doesn’t usually last.
So I encourage you, reader, to love your enemies and respect those who curse you. It’s not easy, but good things never are. You will find a lot of freedom this way.