“In our current society, people who disagree with you about issues in life, especially political ones, are often regarded as “enemies”. This is unhealthy for our nation in general, and it is especially so for our spiritual lives. As followers of Christ, we cannot view others as enemies!”
-Pastor Dave Hill, Abundant Grace Church
Today, we want to share a devotional by Pastor Dave Hill from Abundant Grace Church in Brighton. He encourages us to consider our heart postures towards one another and those we consider as our “enemies.” Pastor Dave also shares a personal example of how he has engaged in conversation and listening across deep political divides with other pastors. This is a crucial message in a time of great division and political animosity to embrace a lifestyle of reconciliation.
Today I would like to look again at Luke 6, verses 27-29a: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also….”.
These are some of Jesus’ hardest instructions–love your enemies and do good to those who hate and hurt you. This is completely counterintuitive and unnatural. It goes against our natural instincts to defend ourselves and to retaliate.
In our current society, people who disagree with you about issues in life, especially political ones, are often regarded as “enemies”. This is unhealthy for our nation in general, and it is especially so for our spiritual lives. As followers of Christ, we cannot view others as enemies! We must learn to love them and to pray for them. While dying on the cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) His Spirit lives in you, and you must crucify your flesh and allow the Spirit to control your thoughts and actions.
Martin Luther King Jr. said this: “Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.” Representative John Lewis, who recently went home to be with the Lord, related how those involved in the struggle for civil rights chose to see their struggle as one against an unjust system, not against people. “We wanted to win them over. We saw them as our brothers.” Wow, and amen!
This was spoken about people who were cursing them, beating them and jailing them. Most of us do not have hurdles nearly that high in loving our enemies. Let us take this to heart and seek the Lord.
Do not make the serious error of thinking of others “who need to hear this message”. You and I need to hear it. Are you offended with someone? Posting things online that dishonor Jesus? Avoiding someone because you simply do not like them? Entertaining mean thoughts towards another?
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be childrenof the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”(Luke 6:32&35, NIV). We are privileged to be called children of the Most High, and we must make every effort to live up to that high calling.
Here is a way to put into practice what Jesus taught during this election: ask someone you think or know does not share your political views why they are voting for president the way they are. You will probably find that they have solid thoughtful reasons for why they vote as they do. As believers, we must realize that there are other believers who love Jesus and believe in the Bible just as much as we do who will vote for someone we don’t like. Seeking to listen rather than to judge honors Jesus. You may not become convinced of their position, but it will help you get over viewing them as an “enemy”. We are required by our Lord to love each other!
I pray with a dozen or so other pastors every Wednesday via Zoom. With all that has gone one with racial issues and politics we decided to stay on for an hour once a month to hear each other’s perspectives on these issues. We are a diverse group with whites, Asian Americans and African Americans. One of the African American pastors, simply being honest, asked, “Can one of you explain to me why white Evangelicals like President Trump?” That is being bold and blunt, which is what we need. Because we all love and respect each other, he could ask that kind of question and we discussed it at length. It was both informative and edifying. It strengthened our relationships. You actually will find yourself feeling closer to someone when you are willing to discuss a controversial subject in love. That is what we did, and I hope you can be blessed by doing the same.
Father, I know these words of Jesus are true, but they daunt me. Yet today I choose to humble myself and repent of evil thoughts, nursing grudges, proud put downs and viewing anyone as an enemy. I want to be like You! Please create in me a clean heart that is kind to the ungrateful and loves those who do not love me. I need Your help. I want to be free. Thank you that what is impossible for me is possible with You. For Your mercy and transforming grace I am truly grateful. Amen.
Other Great Resources
Red & Blue Guide by Essential Partners, which offers great tips in how to engage in conversations with those of differing political viewpoints.
Guide to Election Preparedness, put together by the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston & Boston Ten Point Coalition, Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches
AllSides.com, which “strengthens our democratic society with balanced news, diverse perspectives, and real conversation. We expose people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other.”