Love Your Enemies … Unless

Love your enemies, unless they are your political enemies.

Love your enemies, unless they are a famous person who said something offensive.

love your enemiesLove your enemies, unless they really hurt you.

Love your enemies, unless they are racist, bigoted, or homophobic.

Love your enemies, unless you’re posting online.

Love your enemies, unless you’d rather call them names.

Love your enemies, unless you’re just fed up.

Love your enemies, unless they are a blowhard on the TV or radio.

Love your enemies, unless you’ve got something really clever to say.

Love your enemies, unless they are fundamentalists.

Love your enemies, unless they are Evangelicals.

Love your enemies, unless they don’t love you back.

We have so many excuses not to do what Jesus told his followers to do. It’s quite simple but also tremendously difficult. Love your enemies.

Without excuse or qualification. Without equivocation or minimizing. Without sarcasm or self-importance.

Just love the people who oppress you, oppose you, hurt you, and annoy you. Love the people who are your enemies by chance or birthright or ideology. Love the people who have made themselves your enemies through their choices. Love the people that you have marginalized or dismissed through your own choice. It doesn’t matter why they are your enemy. Just love them.

Love them by trying to understand their story. Love them by refusing to project bad motives upon them. Love them by practicing suspended judgement. Love them by refusing to dehumanize them through demonization. Love them by refusing to call them names. Love them by being kind even while you are disagreeing. Love them by praying for them. Sincerely praying for them.

But don’t expect it to be easy.

They might misunderstand. If they notice at all. They might read your love as self-righteousness and use it as an excuse to heap more insults upon you. They might take advantage of your love. They might not love you back. But keep on loving them.

But don’t confuse love with good boundaries. Love is not weakness. Love is not being wishy-washy. Love is emotionally and spiritually healthy. So be clear and be strong.

And also be kind. Because your enemy is probably acting out of his or her weakness or hurt. There is a reason they can be so judgmental or abusive or difficult. You’ve been in that boat before, haven’t you? You’ve lashed out in anger. You’ve probably gone too far at times. You’ve been surprised by your own vitriol, only to realize later that it was coming from a place of deep pain.

Imagine what it would have been like if someone understood that pain you felt. Imagine how that might have made a difference.

That’s love.

Without agenda. Without strings. Without condition.

There is no “unless.” Love you enemies.

 

Women Are the Leaders the Church Needs: Reflections on #TakeDownThatPost

Here is my column from today’s paper in which I discuss the Leadership Journal / #TakeDownThatPost controversy from last week. Spoiler alert: I think the great lesson learned is not the power of social media, but rather the power of female leadership.

Last week, a prominent Christian journal for pastors published an online article about a former youth pastor who is now in prison for statutory rape. The first-person tale told the story of how its author developed a growing youth ministry while also getting involved sexually with one of the female students in the church.

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Duck Taping Our Mouths: free speech, Phil Robertson, Jesus, and gay sex

I watch Duck Dynasty. I know that it is painfully scripted, and my kids will have no part of it, but Vanessa and I will often turn it on for a couple of silly laughs. I find Duck Dynasty amusing.

I’m also amused by the people who take Duck Dynasty way too seriously.

You know who they are. They are the ones sporting the Duck Dynasty gear they picked up at Walmart. They are the ones who post on Facebook about how members of the Robertson clan should run for President. And they are the ones freaking out about the latest controversy over Phil’s comments in GQ.   Read More…

Lessons from an Unemployed Bivocational Pastor

On Friday morning, I got an email from the religion editor at the newspaper asking if my column was ready. It had been due by 5:00pm on Thursday. It was on my calendar, but somehow I had totally forgotten.

Vanessa was doing the Boutique Show. We had set up on Thursday, her birthday incidentally. And I had just totally forgotten. When I got the email from my editor, I was sitting in Vanessa’s booth at the show.   Read More…

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