Who are your enemies?

I remember sitting in a dull, dingy classroom with about thirty people to learn about Muslims and Islam. It was a careful, respectful, and thoughtful experience. So I’m sad to tell you that I’ve forgotten most of what we covered, because it was a terrific class!

Thankfully, one line has stuck with me ever since: Muslims are not your enemy — but Satan is. 

Think about it. If you’re going to be a missionary to a Muslim-majority country, it helps if you don’t think of Muslims as your enemy! Depending on where you are headed, it may be illegal to proclaim the good news, so you know the risk to your safety and even your life is high.

Still, if you are sent out as a missionary, one hopes it is because you love the people of that country, you intend to serve them, and you are praying for them to experience the joy of knowing God — even if they put you in jail — or worse.

So here’s something much sadder than my poor memory: as you and I consider the way Christians are talking about each other, are you starting to wonder the same thing I am? That is, do we believe that our brothers and sisters in Christ, with their different convictions about, say, face masks, are our enemies? Not that you would say it out loud, but in the secrecy of your heart, how do you feel about people who wear or don’t wear masks? 

And consider how we sometimes talk about people who don’t even know Jesus. Are you surprised that they still reflect God’s image and beauty? Are you disappointed that they are still fallen and in need of God’s rescue?

Maybe we all feel that way about our enemies? We’re a bit shocked that they still exhibit such goodness (which we often explain away or deny) and yet we’re so easily furious with every new story that proves they are Terrible. 

Which reminds me: remember what Jesus taught us? He said,

You are the destroying, victorious army of the world. Retreat into your bunkers, then emerge strong and powerful, and crush your enemies! Make them feel bad, then do it again! 

I’m so sorry. I think my keyboard was acting up. Here’s what Jesus actually said:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

Obedience to this command leaves no room to retreat from the world nor to throw stones at it. We are called to purity and love, yes, but in a way that provides light to everyone around us, as we habitually do good to them. 

So who are your enemies? Would you bring these people — and the state of your heart — to God in prayer? As you do so, I hope you will be comforted by these words from Romans 5:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Giving Credit:

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash