Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 11: Love Your Enemies

"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, despairing of no one. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. " 
-Luke 6:35

I’m not good at this.  I find it easy to be loving and compassionate to a lot of people, but I find it really hard not to give up on some who frustrate me the most.  Like many Christians, I sometimes wish there was an asterisk in the Biblical text, leading to a footnote explaining that of course Jesus didn’t actually mean those people, even if I define those people differently from some of the more loud-spoken Christian sects.  I want there to be some limits on whom I should have to look to for God’s presence.  I want to be given the allowance by God to just storm off in a huff and leave certain people to their own problems.  I want to be able to focus on just winning an argument with these people, to prove myself right over whatever issue we’re arguing about this decade.  Like most people, I sometimes want my religion to be easy, to have control over it.  I want to stick God in a box because a God who fits into the box I’ve defined is less scary and demanding.

No one said Christianity was going to be easy.  Well, okay, Jesus did once in Matthew 11, but not nearly so many times as he pointed out that it was not easy to follow him.  Love is difficult, it is a conscious choice every day to work for the best for the people around you.  Love means giving up the need to prove yourself right in every argument, to sometimes say that the point is to remain in the conversation even when you violently disagree.  In my lay institute class, this came up as a part of our discussion, that the strength of the Episcopal/Anglican communion is that we are in communion.  Even when it is tough, even when we argue and disagree on fundamental, earth-shattering issues, we keep talking to one another.  Okay, sometimes it’s more like yelling at each other at the top of our lungs, but at some point we have to stop yelling, if just to grab a breath, and it’s then, while we are still in communication, still present with one another, that we can remember that we are called to love, not to agree.

Love is scary.  Love means not being in control.  Love is being vulnerable to other people, and still working to be good to them.  Love is not giving up on other people as part of God’s creation.  Christian love isn’t safe, isn’t easy, and doesn’t promise happiness.  It just promises that we are acting like God wished.

Or to give the internet shorthand version:

Margaret Clinch is 28 years old and from the Diocese of Southern Ohio. 
She is serving as a teacher at Easter College in the 
Diocese of the North Central Philippines.

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