Bible Studies/Love your enemies psalm.
Dear J. Webb
In the Holy bible,Matthew - 5:43 - Love your enemies I have the following questions.
1 In the 21st century, it is very difficult to achieve the above?.
2 Will the enemy also think as we think?.
(1) Loving someone who wishes you harm has always been difficult, and always will be difficult. It requires desiring (and working for, where possible) the well-being of another, when there is no reasonable expectation that your efforts will ever benefit you, and when to do so could even give your enemy more power to harm you. Loving the enemy is what Christ did when he laid down his life for the sake of humanity, which hated God and hated him.
"He came to his own, and his own did not accept him." (Jn 1:11)
"They hated me for no reason." (Ps. 69:4; Jn 15:25)
"The insults of those who insulted you landed on me." (Ps. 69:9; Rom. 15:3)
"They have hated both me and my Father." (Jn 15:24)
This is the essence of agape
love: to love without any self-interest, only interest in the well-being of the other. It is the love that motivated God to bring humanity into existence, the love that motivates God to preserve us in existence, and the love that, if possible, would save all people (Mt. 5:43-48; 1 Tim. 2:4).
(2) There is no guarantee that loving your enemy will convert them to love, or at least to stop hating you and wishing you harm. But remember, changing their attitude towards you making them less dangerous and more amenable to your existence is not the point or purpose of love. Love is for their sake, not yours. Loving is good for you because it makes you like your Creator, which is a good thing (again, Mt. 5:43-48). This question about changing your enemy's mind reminds me of a story I heard just yesterday, which I imagine you may already know. Gandhi once heard that a local English colonist in the indigo business had sworn he would kill him if he should ever find him alone. Gandhi hiked to his house very early in the morning to make sure the man would be there, and presented himself at the door. When the sleepy man opened the door, he introduced himself and said, "I am here to make you fulfill your vow." I think Gandhi believed with great faith in the power of truth and love satyagraha
to convert people, and he was fearless and even audacious in living it out. See under the section THE RELATIONS OF OPPRESSED AND OPPRESSOR in http://peacemagazine.org/archive/v03n3p24.htm
for the story and some theory related to it.
The Bible writers do not put it forward as an article of faith that you will convert your enemy by loving him or her. But they do write as though doing kindness is the strongest possible motivating force you can apply in a situation of oppression:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." (Prov. 25:22; Rom. 12:20)
My reading of this verse is not that you will somehow get revenge on the person by doing something good, but that you will give the person intense conscience pangs--which, if they heed them, will ultimately be good both for them and for you.