How to Love Your Enemy amongst Today's Cultural Unrest
- Jason Soroski Contributing Writer
- 2021 29 Jul
I was recently ‘unfriended’ by a guy I used to attend church with. What happened? Well, I posted something about the Olympics, and he commented about how sports are evil, athletes are ‘woke’, and he wants nothing to do with it or anyone who is watching it. He followed through with his words and removed me as a friend.
Wow. Something as simple as that is all it takes to sever a relationship with a church friend. This is not meant as a complaint about one guy. Sadly, this is not an unusual thing. We have all experienced the unfriending phenomenon to some extent, and sometimes we are the ones doing the unfriending. If this is our response, how will we respond when something serious happens?
In such a climate, where is the love of Christ among brothers and sisters? What does that kind of love look like in an increasingly angry and distrustful world? How do we show this love to those who openly mock and shun what we know to be true? What about those who claim to believe what we believe and then attack as soon as things ‘get political’?
Loving without Compromising: The Space Between Judgment and Sin
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” - John 8:10-11
Cancel culture is a worldview in which anything or anyone that is deemed by a certain group to be wrong, intolerant, or undesirable should be ‘cancelled’ and done away with, removed from sight and removed conversation. There is no redemption; just an admission that you are forever wrong, someone else is forever right, and there is nothing you can do to change it.
The problem with this is that there is no foundational way to decide just exactly what and who is right or wrong, and no way to determine the final authority on anything. The only measuring stick seems to be propaganda with little thought of context.
The Scriptures present us with such a scenario. Adultery was an offense punishable by death. It was wrong and there was no excuse, and so it is not surprising that Jesus would encounter a situation where a woman was about to be stoned to death for doing it.
Jesus found himself in a position we often find ourselves in: punish the sinner or accept the sin.
Yet this is a completely false analogy, and Jesus knew this. We must learn it as well.
Jesus does not join in a condemnation, yet neither does he join in the sin.
Many believers, in an attempt to avoid being judgmental, instead coddle the sin, tell the sinner that it is okay to sin because no one is perfect anyway, and even encourage the sinner to continue sinning because that is ‘how they are’. They are told that whatever makes them feel good is okay, and surely Jesus understands because God is love.
Yet Jesus does NOT do that here. He does not join the angry mob ready to kill someone, but he certainly does not encourage the sin. He shows the perfect balance between grace and truth, and speaks in love that he is unaccepting of the sin, but offers an opportunity for repentance and redemption. Many will not choose that opportunity, but it is up to us to preach it and live it out.
Loving the Unlovable
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44
Much of what Jesus taught seems to make sense. Teachings such as the Golden Rule of ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’ makes sense in context of basic human kindness, especially when it means we will be treated kindly in return. Yet Jesus takes it a step further, in commanding us to love our enemies, even when we can expect nothing at all in return.
Think about it--even as Jesus is breathing his last breaths on the cross, he cries out that these people should be forgiven for what they are doing. Pause on this thought.
A cruel and ruthless invading government is crucifying an innocent man, in this case a perfect man, and he still thinks they are candidates for heavenly forgiveness?
How deep is the love of God? Deeper than we can comprehend or imagine.
It Starts with Christ Alone
“Do everything in love”. – 1 Corinthians 16:14
These are questions that find their answer in only one place--in Christ. Outside of the strength we find in Christ, it is pretty much impossible to show consistent love for people who have only hate for us. Yet this is exactly what Jesus calls us to do, and exactly what separates us from the rest of the unbelieving world.
In a culture driven by social media and the need to weigh in on every issue, it is easier than ever to make enemies.
We even spend time debating people have never met, and will likely never meet, arguing about things we can’t control. We consider ourselves a divided people. We divide ourselves over politics, over candidates, over sports teams, over sporting events, over favorite colors, over favorite foods, and over just about anything.
It seems we find a certain degree of our own personality and uniqueness in embracing those things that separate us from others, and these traits get magnified over and above those things that may truly unite us.
What about the ‘Culture Wars’?
How many people have we won to the Gospel through fighting? How much multiplication has come from our division? Will loving those who we consider to be our enemies really make a difference?
Our culture continues to evolve. We have gone from a ‘Judeo-Christian’ based culture, to a ‘everyone should do what is right for themselves’ culture, and currently find ourselves in a ‘cancel culture’. Throughout the changing waves of cultural philosophies, Christians have struggled to find their footing.
To what extent should we interact with culture we know to be wrong? How far do we push, and when do we know we have finally ‘won’?
We also seem to struggle with the idea that we are losing the ‘culture wars’, as the boundaries of what is normal continue to be stretched and torn away to the point that the most common-sense ideals are tossed for the sake of ‘progress’.
We can’t make everyone happy on social media, and some people will not like what we have to say. Our responsibility is to show love to others while speaking truth.
This will certain not win us a lot of fans, but it will demonstrate to the world what Christianity is about, and how through the love found in Christ we can display on act on love that is greater than ourselves.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Filistimlyanin
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and member of the worship team at matthias lot church in St. Charles, MO. He spends his free time hanging out with his family, exploring new places, and writing about the experiences. Connect on Facebook or at JasonSoroski.net.