But I Have No Enemies

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

“Love your enemies.”

Matthew 5:44

G. K. Chesterton once observed that the reason Jesus connected “neighbors” and “enemies” is because they are often the same people! Chesterton had a knack for saying the cleverest of things, but on this one he got it exactly backward. Jesus’ concern is not so much that our neighbors have become our enemies, but that we are summoned to make our enemies into our neighbors. That difference is what Jesus is all about.

We must ask, “Who are our enemies?” For Jesus’ world, the “enemy” undoubtedly was a covert reference to the Romans because of their oppressive presence in Israel–taxing, shoving around, and building. Jesus had just referred to how a Roman soldier could demand help for transportation (Matthew 5:38-42). We might be tempted, then, to say “Well, I like the Romans. I have no enemies. Can we move on to Matthew 6 or to Paul?” But let’s slow down.

We measure enemies according to the measure of Jesus, and that measure is table fellowship. So, let’s ask ourselves a different question: Who would you much rather not invite to dinner? Or lunch? Or coffee? Think about it because it is right there at the intersection of our life and fellowship with others that enemies emerge. In my experience, many American Christians treat Muslims and homosexuals as their natural enemies. Just to make this even more clear, I’d like to ask you what I’m asking myself right now: How many Muslims and homosexuals have I spent time with this year? The way to break down partitions between us is to take the first step in inviting people to coffee or lunch or dinner.

At the table, we experienced the grace of fellowship with Jesus; at the table we hear the words over the bread and cup and find reconciliation. Jesus was completely convinced that we are called to love all people, and he took the radical step of more by saying we are to love our enemies. Who is your enemy? Are you willing to share the table with that enemy? Jesus invites you to the table so you can invite others.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What have you learned to be signs that someone is your enemy? Do you think Jesus really wants us to show love to our enemies? What do you think that means for Jesus and for us? What are you doing about turning enemies into neighbors?

PRAYER: Our Father, how wonderful it is that you have turned us from enemies into your family and neighbors. How great it is that we have experienced fellowship with you at your table. And how wonderful it is that we have experienced fellowship with so many brothers and sisters at your table.

Now, Father, take that table and apply its graces to our enemies. Reveal to us just who our enemies are. I ask you to do this for me. Show me who my enemies are through this simple idea: Who would I rather not invite for coffee or lunch or dinner?

And I ask you to give me the courage, through the example of Jesus’ own life and the power of the Spirit, to do what you have done: make enemies into neighbors. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

P.S. from Mark Roberts: This week's reflections are written by New Testament professor, prolific author, blogger at Jesus Creed, man of deep faith, and my friend, Dr. Scot McKnight. If you missed my introduction of Scot in Monday's reflection, you can find it here.

Images sourced via Creative Commons.