Angela Chininin Buele
There is no shortage of tension or conflict in the world. From Supreme Court cases to domestic disputes, we disagree on a whole lot. And when there are disagreements, our sinful nature wants to draw a line in the sand and start the roll call. We ask, “Who is on my side, and who is on my enemy’s side?”
That is how we make wars out of differences. One person posts a black ribbon, and someone else responds by posting a blue ribbon. One person raises awareness for persecution of one religion so someone else makes known the greater suffering of another religion. One group cries foul when bakers don’t want to make certain ceremonial cakes, while others dissent when certain flags are flown alongside or even replacing official city and state flags.
And then you have one group crying out for the right of the unborn to be granted life while another group fights for freedom for a woman’s free reign over any and all parts and persons within her body.
When people disagree on these matters, things usually get tense, and they occasionally get ugly. But we should remember one very important fact. You and I are not enemies – God and Satan are. Now, I love and belong to God, so Satan is my enemy. Yet, I am still most definitely not your enemy, regardless of how you feel about me. That is to say, if you find me on the opposite side of one of those lines in the sand, it’s not because I don’t love you. I love police officers, and I love black people. I also love those who display one color ribbon over another even though I don’t display either. I love Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists, even though I do not believe all roads lead to Heaven. I love people of all sexual practices even while I support only one.
Can you stand opposed to what someone does and still have compassion and love for the person? If you require people to prove their fidelity to a cause in order to earn your respect and favor, you do not have love. This is as true (and as hard) for me as it is for you. These issues are important to us, but if they are more important to us than the human beings with whom we are at odds over them, we will be undone. You see, we are commanded by God to love people, not causes.
Key Question: I had previously asked when life begins, but maybe the greater question is, “When does love begin?”
Unshakable Truth: They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:4-11).
Jesus both rescued the woman from those who wished to kill her for her sins and told her to go and sin no more. This what love is. This is what love does. This is Who Love is. Love does not begin at first sight or when emotions surge. Love begins long before then. Love begins at the cross of Christ, and if you haven’t been there, you can’t know Love.
The Real Choice: Will you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you?