Reflections on Brokenness Post 4 – We All Have Enemies

Yesterday, I posted that some of us may need to rethink our ideas regarding persecution. Which brings us to the realization of if we are feeling persecuted, we have “enemies” in some sense. And when we have enemies, eventually we’ll realize that we need some type of plan dealing with their attacks and with them personally and collectively but for now, let’s focus on the idea that we really do have enemies.

The story of the crucifixion of Jesus includes that initially, it seemed that he was defeated by his enemies.  And this happened in spectacular fashion. Betrayed, abandoned, unjustly found guilty in poor excuses of “trials” by men more interested in power than justice, tortured, mocked, then crucified is just about the worst death one could have and add to it that the same crowd who cheered for him a week before, were among those that cried “Kill him!” Among the things are happening is that all of his (and our) enemies are uniting and converging against him at this terrible and tragic moment.

I am fortunate enough that I can not really relate. I suppose in some sense we have all experienced elements of these (betrayal, abandonment, etc.) Sadly, some of us have experienced this from our families, even our churches and people we regarded in our inner circle and some have been attacked by people who don’t even know us.

I want to make the point that whether we realize it or not, we all have enemies. For a good while, I thought I didn’t really have any real enemies. There are reasons for that ranging from a desire of being quick to reconcile with others to living in the suburbs. But I am wrong, For many reasons I have not realized and will continue to realize, I have many.  You do too.

Though the Christian ethic is one rooted in love we have to see that Jesus had and fought with his enemies. Any serious reading of Scripture forces us to ask ourselves, “Why was he so hard on those Pharisees?” Couldn’t Jesus have sat down with them, took the wine and made them mocha frappuccinos and spelled it all out for them? And what about the time in the wilderness with the devil? Why doesn’t Jesus say to him, “Hey, I think we got off on the wrong foot a few thousand years ago, let’s see if we reconcile?” I mean, imagine if the devil repented.

You don’t know how painful that last line was to write. I hope it was painful to read. We can discuss the reasons, the context, the scenes endlessly, but it’s important we take seriously the evil, the resistance and the selfishness of the heart. In any case, it seemed Jesus was content to have a few enemies.

Well, that’s great, we’re off the hook then. Because frankly, I’m not even sure I have any “enemies” in that sense. How about that – Jesus has more enemies than me.

But we’re not off the hook. Jesus doesn’t have these enemies because He is socially inept or has a lack of manners, He has these enemies because He’s fighting dangerous battles. He’s fighting all types of injustice, he’s fighting greed and pride and selfishness, even disease. Ultimately, he’s fighting pain, evil and death.

He has enemies because the world is flawed and a righteous man cannot stay neutral in a fallen world.

We have enemies. They are similar to whom Jesus fought. The self-righteous, the deceitful, the corrupt. From the sexual predators to the traffickers, to the greedy businessmen, to the manipulative pastor – these are our enemies too.

This Lent, I encourage you to identify those that are our enemies. I caution you from making a list of the pet-peeves we have, like “self-indulgent celebrities”, “people who drive slow in the fast lane”, people of a particular denomination, tribe, stripe, etc.  Let’s ask ourselves, who/what are the enemies of the Kingdom of God?

We may not only find that we are fighting the wrong battles but we may also find that sometimes we’re fighting on the wrong side.