“It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.” Martin Niemöller
Today, if African American protests turn into riots, the offenders are often referred to as “animals.” In the early American West, native Americans were called “savages”, and wartime slurs dehumanized Jews, Germans, and Japanese. Richard Rohr reminds us that we all have a viewpoint, and that each viewpoint is “a view from a point.” Consequently, he says “…we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the full truth.” To love our enemies, as Jesus commands, and to escape our own unconscious biases, we will need such a critique.
“Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy. Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God’s love and God’s kindness and God’s patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men. Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.” Thomas Merton
“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Jesus in Matthew 5:44
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you understand your enemy well enough to understand his motives? his fear of you? your common humanity with him?
- Do you understand yourself and your fear of your enemy? How you or your nation, political party, religion or race may have helped make him your enemy?
- Does faith as you practice it tend to disarm others or to make them suspicious and defensive? Do you approach those of other faiths or persuasions based on prejudices and stereotypes – perhaps the way they do with you?
Abba, may practiced love transform my enemy into my friend.
For More: Seeds by Thomas Merton
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”