Enemy! It’s a strong word. If you have one, you need a strategy for victory. Let me tell you two things. #1 – You have an enemy. #2 – I can tell you how win.
Welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — thanks for joining me … I do this for you.
Enemy! Even the word itself has a certain edge to it.
When I served in the US Marine Corps, they provided me with several options for dealing with an enemy who presented himself before me. I was trained to use my rifle. (“There are many like it, but this one is mine.”) I often carried a side arm. (“How do you want to die, left eye or right?”) I always had my KA-BAR on my belt, the large USMC fighting knife. (“Silent and totally effective.”)
Even before I became a Marine, I had a black belt in karate. So I had the skills to dispatch an enemy even if I had no other weapon at hand. (“I am the weapon.”)
All of this training, of course, is of no use in advancing the Kingdom of Christ. He has a totally different approach to dealing with enemies. Today’s verse says, “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU.”
I remember sitting with a former CIA operative who had come to Christ and was struggling with that verse. He was facing a situation where someone was speaking against him wrongly, and deliberately trying to “make trouble” for him. I almost laughed out loud when my friend said, “It used to be so easy when I could just kill them!!” We all have that tendency within us, don’t we?
But God’s approach is not man’s approach. He demonstrated His love for us while we were still His enemies. He chose to love us. Fully. Totally.
Paul makes it clear when he writes in Romans 5, “While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son.”
God had an army, He didn’t send it. They could have utterly destroyed us. There is no time or place in recorded history where humans had victory over an army of angels. That solution has never failed. But God’s aim was not to win a battle, it was to win our hearts.
I’m an example of someone who deserved to be the victim of his army of angels. I was His enemy. I opposed Him. I allowed my pain to drive choices I knew were utterly wrong and sinful; but I chose them anyway. If anyone was a rightful candidate for the wrath of God it was me. (And you, too, by the way.)
But instead of sending His army to destroy us, He sent His Son to win us over. His strategy is to display such overwhelming love that it can change even the vilest and cruelest of hearts. And it does! Every day, day after day. His love wins.
After demonstrating the cost, the process and the outcome, Christ invites us to follow Him. He says crazy things to us!!!
“If they hated Me, they will hate you, too.”
“As My Father sent Me, so now I am sending you.”
“Love your enemies, and pray for them who persecute you.”
It all begins and ends with, “Follow Me.” He’s not asking us to go anywhere He didn’t, or to do anything He didn’t do. In fact, He’s only asking us to do precisely what He did. As we follow Him, sometimes it will appear as though we are losing the battle. In fact, here on earth it may even appear that we’ve lost.
But the final determination of who wins and who loses is not ever going to be made here on earth. There is a crown awaiting the ones who’ve loved best. It will be awarded in heaven, not on earth.
I’ve received recognition for my shooting skills. I won awards and trophies for my fighting skills. Those all mean nothing. Because the way we show that we have won the victory over our enemies is to love them.
May God give you and I the grace to love well, to love when it hurts – to love our enemies. May God give us the grace to be faithful – even unto death, if need be.
Because then one day, where and when it truly matters, a crown of victory will await us. Actually, not just the crown of victory but a the crown of life.
Love well, even when it hurts. We win.