Loving our enemies

Albert Bogle May 09, 2016 0 0
Loving our enemies

I’ve been thinking and reflecting on the way we human beings persecute each other. Taking time to listen to the voices of the persecuted is gruelling and challenging.  No one reading Sunday's prayer could escape the plea from Elsa for prayer and understanding.

Yet too often when I think and write about these things it all seems miles away from the reality of my life. Then I start to think how we can persecute ourselves.  I have noticed  and encountered over the years people who struggle to accept that they should be happy.  It’s as though they become their own jailor. Sometimes for good reasons but on many occasion they have allowed themselves to be hyper - critical of their own actions and that of others. This kind of mindset leads to a great deal of unhappiness and tension in so many relationships.

Recently I came across a TEDx talk that I thought was absolutely inspirational. It reminded me of one of the themes we dealt with here on Sanctuary First back in 2011. The theme of ‘Gratitude’ was used to help look beyond ourselves to the grace and love of God which extends to all of us. Grace of course only truly operates when we know we don’t deserve it. 

Hailey Bartholomew a young Australian photographer tells how she turned her life around by exercising and developing a reflective life based on gratitude. She ended up establishing a project entitled the 365 Grateful Project. Her TED talk is well worth taking the time to listen to.

Paul writing to the Corinthians highlights the significance of God’s extravagant generosity towards people like you and me. When we do, it changes the way we respond in worship and lifestyle. We often begin to understand the significance of God’s forgiveness and his gracious provision.  We in turn are challenged to take risks towards ourselves and other people, especially those who have wronged us.

This week as we reflect on the challenge of loving our enemies and doing good to those who have used us in the past, it would be wonderful if we could possibly take up Hailey Bartholomew’s idea and begin share some pictures of things that make us incredibly grateful. When we begin to reflect in this way we discover a new confidence and generosity towards those who have wronged us. However I have one caveat. We need to be wise in how we go about living out forgiveness. It does not mean that we return to the same relationship that caused us hurt and pain. The scripture reminds us to be. “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." I say this especially to those who find themselves living in abusive relationship. We must learn to forgive but we must also know when the time has come to move on. Forgiveness opens the door to new beginnings and new horizons.