Love your enemies. (Luke 6:27)
Many people misinterpret this divine commandment like this: Christ preaches a sublime, otherworldly way of looking at things. Everyone knows both that this is the most beautiful doctrine ever and that in actual fact no one can follow it.
Because, in the real world, things get messy. God, of course, knows that. So we need Christ’s teaching to try to keep our ideals elevated. But then in the rough and tumble of actual events, we need a more practical approach. Christ meant to give us spiritual goals, for private cultivation.
The pivot point upon which this misinterpretation rests, I think, is this: When we get right down to it, what are the most fundamental facts?
You have to fight to survive. Enemies lurk around most corners, and they have countless tricks up their dark sleeves. Beauty dies and fades away. Chaos overtakes order. The only place where anything noble can really dwell is in my own head, or in the heads of my like-minded friends, to whom I cling for dear life against the cold winds.
Christ teaches us, though, that these are not the fundamental facts. We don’t know from cold winds really. Because we cannot even conceive of the nothingness that would overtake us–were it not for the real fundamental fact.
The fundamental fact actually is: Everything exists because of the love of God. Why is there a today, when there could not be one? Reality could be a tv with a “No Signal” message bouncing around the screen forever. That could be it.
But it’s not.
Things exist, like pancakes and guitars. Today exists. For one reason: Because God is waiting, with infinitely patient love, for us to turn to Him, love Him, praise Him.
Every day He makes for that one reason. As far as He is concerned, what happened yesterday really doesn’t matter. Yesterday wouldn’t have existed if He hadn’t made it, to be sure. But He made it to be a today, not a yesterday. And now that yesterday is a yesterday, God is prepared to forget all about it. That, in fact, is why He made today. Yesterday was not perfect, so forget it. Today can be better. Today we can love. Today we can live in the truth.
That’s why it exists. That is the most fundamental fact. There is one decisive difference between planet Earth, equipped with leaves, a moon, spaghetti and people smiling with white teeth—one difference between this and nothing, between this and the eternal “No Signal” message—one difference. Eternal, omnipotent love.
Loving our enemies does not mean living in a dreamworld, a fantasy, a counterfactual delusion. No. Not loving our enemies means living in a dreamworld, a fantasy, a counterfactual delusion. When we wake up to the fundamental fact, we love our enemies. Because it is immediately apparent that any other approach is really quite pointless.