“I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28.
I’ll be honest. I’m struggling to read or watch the news anymore. The hate seems to be everywhere. It’s not enough to disagree with someone else’s viewpoint, or even to attack it, we’re attacking the people who put it forward. We’re using the word hate more and more and, if not using the word, then we’re using many words to signal that meaning. We’re cursing others and, again, not just their ideas or their different beliefs or cultures, but them, human beings that they are. Stories of abuse, of power and person, from the intimate to the international in scale, are everywhere. Sometimes all it takes is an insinuation, a suggestion or an accusation to start the hate happening. It doesn’t take much for the fire to spread.
So, listen. I think there’s lots in the Bible that’s interpretive. No, it’s not as simple as the words on the page. But then, sometimes it is, and more often than not, that’ll be one of those moments when we might just wish “oh Jesus, I just wish you hadn’t said that.” That’ll be one of those moments of simple truth that we wish we didn’t have to address because we think it’s challenging or complicated or messy. Like love. Or life.
And that’s just it. To be life-giving, it needs love. Hate is destructive, it breaks down, it kills, it ends things. Love creates, builds up, gives life and begins things. Like relationships.
So, listen, says Jesus, here’s how you do it. Here’s how you live into your life, created in the image of God, created for relationship, created to create and grow, created to mend and heal. Start with you. You: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless and pray for those who curse and abuse you, love those that are hardest to love. For you. Make love the way that you operate. Create a place of care, forgiveness and respect around you. Then share that as widely as you can. Be Jesus to them, not as a behaviour but as a life, lived from the heart.
Hate, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, isn’t defeated by hate, it’s defeated by love. Its darkness is diminished by the light of love, its destructiveness is overwhelmed by love, its brokenness is mended by love.
So, listen, says Jesus, because it’s not just about you. It’s about the power of relationship and the power of that relationship to transform the lives of others. Love doesn’t make enemies, it makes friends, partners, lovers, it makes safe and endearing space for people to grow and thrive as the unique individuals that they are, in a way that builds community – the common unity of all of us together.
That’s a world powered by love, power that’s within each of us. And that’s where it starts: with you.