Sometimes we get to see wider implications to some of the concepts we learn in our classes and how we apply them to our real lives. Because I don’t know about you, but I have found myself reflecting a lot in the past few weeks about Jesus’ call for us to “love our enemies”. And here’s why…
I think I am mostly a pleasant and agreeable person (if I do say so myself :-), and I don’t really think of myself as having enemies. So I think I have always considered Jesus’ words about loving your enemies in Luke 6:27 (and beyond) as pertaining, say, to the kid who stole my lunch money in grade school, or the boss that somehow I could never seem to please, or the person who was maybe just a little annoying to me, who “rubbed me the wrong way”, you know?
But these national and international events of the past few weeks have made me look at these words again. Maybe I don’t have a personal enemy that I can think of or will ever confront face to face, but I see in this world the definition of enemy in a bigger and more abstract (to me) and thus more unsettling and yes even frightening way. And in this context I am both bewildered and convicted by Jesus’ words to pray for my (our) enemies, to “bless those who curse you” and “do good to those who hate you”. Wow. Are we really supposed to do that?
This made me think of one of my first courses here at Sterling; a class in Cross Cultural Studies. It was a deep exploration in understanding and accepting those with different cultural backgrounds, behaviors, and belief systems. I learned a lot about trying to understand differences and not judge others, and there was a lot of discussion about conflict in there too. My classmates and I struggled together mightily with concepts like right and wrong and acceptance and judgment. I remember saying at the end of this class that every student – no matter what program – should be required to take a class like this. And on my good days, it has even changed the way I listen and interact with others.
I know that without that class, maybe I would have a different perspective on these words of Jesus and the recent world events in Pakistan, in the Middle East, and even (or especially) here. And let me just say right now that I don’t have all or maybe even any of the answers. I’m still for the most part wrestling with these big issues. But I’m not just reading the Scriptures for what they mean to me personally in my small sphere of existence anymore. I see a wider world and broader vision of what Jesus is teaching us.
So I hope we are all reflecting on what these events – and the ways that we think, feel, and react to them – might mean to us as followers of the Christ who calls us to a countercultural, radical love for all. And, if you haven’t taken the Cross Cultural course yet – look forward to it!
Ohhhh…it is late and I have rambled on…so I’ll be back again soon with new thoughts and new topics! In the meantime I wish you all God’s peace as the online students enter the home stretch in the Spring II course…