Loving Your Enemies in a Culture Saturated with Hate, Division and Polar Opposite Opinions
We can look at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and see a man who loved and stood for what was right and just. He did that not by being right or angry or even fighting, but he was loving and kind to everyone. He said specifically “The more they hate us, the more we have to love them.” Dr. King also said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. And hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.”
As a believer, we are called to love our enemies no matter how we are treated or how someone feels about us. In recent times there have been many protests, and one of the groups involved in the protests is Black Lives Matter. One such group was protesting near a conservative group and the leader of the Black Lives Matter group, which typically has more of a militant approach, was invited over to speak to the quieter conservative group. As this man was surrounded by the conservative group all they did was love on him and take pictures with him and even invited him to speak to their group. Even though this man did not change his views, he realized that he had the wrong approach in his group.
We see a culture that is divided, and there can’t be different views without spewing hatred at each other and having violence break out in many situations. Americans need to get back to being okay with having differing opinions and still love and care for each other. As Christians we are called to be civil Christians in a civil land, and at VFNKB we have ten principles that we ask those who are a part of our tribe to commit to so that we know we are all on the same page. These ten principles came from Dr. King, which we changed a couple of things so that it is all relevant to today. You can sign your commitment to be a civil Christian today here at Civil Christianity. It is important to know who we are walking with because we all need to walk in love. Those that walked with Dr. King realized that every day could be their last day and they knew that they wanted to be right before God and man.
Arthur Brooks president of American Enterprise Institute and bestselling author of the book Love Your Enemies spoke on the Ben Shapiro Show recently. They discussed how to handle criticism and how to bridge the gap between those that have differing opinions. Shapiro specifically asks what Brooks advice is on how to get past differences and beyond ego.
Brooks responds with a few different principles starting with principle number one, “To begin with, the most important thing to keep in mind is that when somebody treats you with contempt you have to see it as an opportunity. This is a real mindset shift.” He talks about Mormons and how they go on missions and face rejection repeatedly and he asked some people that are Mormons how they deal with it. They responded saying that every time they face rejection that it is an opportunity for them to react to the rejection in a way that people are morally attracted to what they are talking about.
Brooks continues, “We have mastery over ourselves; this is a blessing when we are created in God’s image, we are actually able to extend the time between the stimulus and response…If you are treated with contempt and you answer just like that with contempt, then the time between stimulus and response has been minimized because you are not the master of yourself. You can make the decision to answer with contempt but typically we don’t. So, what we need to do is take that time and [realize] I was just treated with contempt. That’s a big opportunity to answer somebody with kindness and in so doing somebody is going to see it, it’s going to change my heart and I’m never going to go away saying, you know what, I wish I had been more of a jerk.”
Next, he continues with principle number two, “It is to stand up to the man, we need to remember that 7% of Americans are profiting from the current environment…93% of Americans want to be better, they don’t want the current climate of contempt…” He shares that the 93% need to surpass the 7% which are the rich and famous and powerful. We need to think about what can be done to encourage other people.
He shares the third principle, “We have to go where we are not invited and say things people don’t expect. That is the missionary spirit…we have one life one career one set of opportunities to get out there and spread what’s right and true.” We must remember that when we get out there with our friends or with others that we are in mission territory!
We breakdown these three principles on how to love our enemies to understand them better. First of all the word contempt is defined as lack of respect or reverence for something; the state of being despised; willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge or legislative body. We are seeing a lot of contempt in America today, and it is time for us all to love our enemies!
The first principle is: when someone treats you with contempt you should see it as an opportunity. Many times, what can hinder this is that we first see it as an offense instead of an opportunity. Because of that, we can be reactionary, but if we change our mindset on how we view it, then we can see it as an opportunity versus reacting in hurt and anger. Right now, people are being treated with contempt everywhere! We can have a different opinion than someone else yet still love them! We can choose to be on the same side of love.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42
The second principle is: to stand up to the man. This is not standing up to authority and doing something wrong to authority because we do not condone rebellion. But this is like David when he stood up to Goliath and because he stood up to the man a nation of people was set free! We must speak truth to power, but we speak it in love.
The third principle is: that we are missionaries; we go to where we are not invited and say something no one expects. We need to communicate in love to bring others to the Lord. One way to do this is to listen to others and respect them! We must move in the fear of the Lord when we are talking to people and realize that God is listening to us.
What do you think about these three principles? Also, what do you think about loving your enemies? Jesus died for every person on the earth! We can bless our enemies because that is what Jesus has called us to do. We want to hear what you think. Write to us at [email protected]. Greg and John shared in this segment.