What About Loving Christian Enemies?

“Good” Christians vote the Guide. Democrats keep quiet.

Is it possible for “Christian” and “enemy” to even appear in the same sentence?

When Jesus urges us to “love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you” it seems pretty clear he’s talking about enemies outside the family of faith since he continues, “If you greet only your brothers … do not even pagans do that?” (Matt. 5:43-46)

And yet, how often do we find ourselves being treated as enemies because of some issue that seems less than central to our membership in the family of God.

Making Enemies of Democrats and Working Women

Some women stay at home caring for children. Some hold paid jobs outside the home. Some have paid employment at home … Some of them even care for other working women’s children.

Some Christians vote Republican, according to their consciences and the Voter Guide handed out after the Sunday service. Some Christians vote Democratic, according to their consciences, which they keep as quiet as possible within the church walls.

For those whose views and lifestyles fall outside the majority perspectives, Sunday services, small group attendance, and Bible studies can be painful. Not to mention evangelism. I mean, when your friends are former hippies who still like to sing “Blowin’ in the Wind,” are you really going to bring them to a church where everyone they meet will be celebrating the Romney/Ryan ticket?

Happily, I’m talking about a church I no longer attend.

Jesus Urges Peace Among Believers

Jesus was, of course, talking about persecution from those outside the community of faith. But Paul, who was no stranger to persecution, reminded Christians to stop treating each other contemptuously just because they disagreed on subjects where God had not been clear:

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. …  You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Rom. 14: 1, 10).

So unless God wrote more than I’ve seen about American politics, there’s no grounds for disregarding other Christians — or their not-yet-believing friends — over political disagreements. Or when women avoid falling into idleness and alcohol abuse by keeping busy with jobs outside the home that pay for things like lights, soap, and clothing that in Christ’s time were made by the homemaker  (Titus 2:3-5) .

We will all stand before God’s judgment seat. And God will forgive as we have forgiven. Reason enough to learn to pray for the Christians who have despitefully used us.

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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One Response to What About Loving Christian Enemies?

  1. Heidi Smid says:

    Thank you for this one, Carlene! I can relate to what you are saying, for sure. I once read somewhere (I think it was in a CCEF-published book? not sure) that there are times where a believer may FUNCTION in our lives as an enemy – and in that case, we need to remember how Jesus calls us to treat our enemies. Of course, long-term perspecitve, they are a brother or sister. But at times, they – WE – can actually be both for a time.
    Galatians 5:14-16 says: For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

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