Enemies - What Do We Do?
Matt.5:42-44 - Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Lk.6:34-36 - And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Rom.12:19-21 - Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
It has been a steadily rising phenomenon within western evangelicalism, until it has become accepted and practiced with no inward conviction whatsoever. It has been embraced through all sorts of different monikers and labels, and it has become a plentiful source of carnality, as well as the impetus for inter-congratulatory accolades within the “We are orthodox” community of faith. It thrives with a seemingly endless amount of fodder with which to stoke its fires.
This is the expansive way in which the church identifies, targets, and attacks its “enemies”. If we adhere to the New Testament there are enemies of the cross and enemies of the gospel and enemies of Christ. The core element was always spiritual. But in today’s evangelical climate, particularly in the west, the definition of enemies has been expanded. Our enemies are now liberals, and socialists, and protestors, and gays, and an assortment of other sinners who are lost and exhibit certain moral views that are unbiblical. They are now our enemies.
But where is the gospel in all this? And what indeed are we suggesting? Are we saying that only lost sinners who remain within accepted parameters of sinful behavior are objects of our love and Christ’s redemption? It is very unseemly and uproots the very Person of Christ and His gospel. And it also reveals a striking devaluation of the depth of our own sin, especially before we were regenerated. But the western church has embraced a form of legalism that fights a cultural battle but ignores the loving battle for the souls of men.
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Is that practiced with passion and enthusiasm? Do believers really love Barney Frank or Bill Clinton or President Obama? And what level of hypocrisy demands with conviction an orthodox definition of the Trinity but can simultaneously ignore the teachings of Christ about loving your enemies? And those who speak evil of lost sinners and who report the daily behaviors of fallen man in order to energize hatred for those “enemies”, have in their doctrinal statement and declare with vigor that the Bible is inerrant! But the Scriptures that command love for our enemies are somehow diluted if not completely ignored. Are they not just as inerrant?
And the New Testament goes much further. It commands us to help and feed our enemies. But so many in the church wail and complain about the latest tax situation and the liberal agendas and in so doing they are drawn away from the gospel and the open teachings of Christ. And the world sees us as nothing more than a bastion of moral dictates that enjoys a good fight. How despicable!
And so many seem to feel that God is calling them to defend America. And standing upon that carnal foundation, they spew forth castigations toward lost sinners with no regard to the sufferings of our Savior Who died to save them. This nationalistic and moralistic battle continues to violently misrepresent Christ and obliterates the gospel message. But we can take solace in the fact that we have our enemies in our crosshairs rather than in our vision of the cross.
God has His enemies, and He will deal with them. But our enemies are three fold: the devil, the world system, and our own flesh. The church has now adopted a world view that reserves redemption for written doctrinal expressions, and the western church, by and large, exhibits a pathological lack of compassion. And sometimes it is these “enemies” that bind together fellowships and certain orthodox cliques. It is most disturbing and unfortunate.
But the heart of the law is love. Love God and love others. But in this climate of discernment and moral safaris, the love thing has lost its fervor and even its meaning. Love is for the Valentine’s Day banquet at church, but not for the HIV infected gay person, and certainly not for the liberals who seek to destroy America. Love is now defined by our emotions which must be energized by that which deserves our love. And so the church kicks the publican to the curb and loves the orthodox brother who champions what we champion. What a revelation of circular self gratification.
But we have not learned this from Christ, who died for His enemies. Just the Sermon on the Mount is enough New Testament to unmask us as frauds. And loving your enemies does not come just because we decide to love them. That kind of love can only come through His power and sincere prayer that asks, even begs, God to change our hearts. And we as saints must smell like goats, even while being sheep. If we continue to stay an arms length away from the lost, to say nothing of hurling verbal projectiles in their directions, we not only are straying from the teachings of Christ, but we have created another religion not unlike Islam.
Oh yes, when we construct a religion of rules that evangelizes through moral adherence and political force, then we are practicing a religion of laws with a light smattering of Jesus. Yes, Islam light, without the violence.