We’ve spent a lot of time in recent Fridays talking about how to deal with our feelings toward those who’ve opposed and hurt us. Therefore, we’re going to widen our net ever-so-slightly to include one more enemy—you.
All of us have been God’s enemies. And I’m not just talking in a positional, “before we were born again” sense. I’m talking experientially. Like, earlier today—maybe even right now. We habitually assert our “in-dependence from” God. Note how I split that word, and the implications of that. Every time we take matters into our own hands, we very deliberately (however unwittingly) separate ourselves from trusting in God. For all practical purposes, in that moment we’re declaring ourselves His enemies in those matters. We might well come slinking back in repentance later, with spiritual hat in hand… but that’s later.
This isn’t meant to beat anyone up—simply to acknowledge that we operate in this manner a whole lot more than we’re normally willing to admit. And yet, Jesus continues to love us, even when we’re opposing Him (again, intentionally or not). This is why He can so authoritatively command us, “Love your enemies, and pray for them who persecute you.” He not only lived this out during his time on earth, but has confronted our opposition since the garden—and since His resurrection as well.
Think about how you feel when a loved one is hurt or threatened. Jesus feels that way about each of us, especially those within His church. And He’s just as offended, if not moreso, when those who seek to hurt His people are those within the church.
Again, while our offenses might not be as egregious as the ones committed by those people you thought of just now, we’re not innocent here either. We too oppose Jesus far too often, in order to assert our own identity apart from Him—because, well, we just don’t totally trust Him. We withhold love from others because we believe it’ll be rejected or discarded. Jesus says: That’s not the point. The point is: Do you trust Me enough to lay down your independence and obey Me?
We need to love the enemy known as us, too, just as Jesus does. Who needs love more than someone who clearly doesn’t have any?
In a large sense, then, laying down our independence isn’t only about letting Jesus in, but letting others in as well—to run the risk of incurring enemies, to run the risk of even good people opposing your good plans. And then, love them anyway. God does not let us off this hook. Because Jesus Himself was not let off this hook. The people in front of Jesus weren’t obstacles in His path—they were His path. And we’re called to follow that path.
You were never in this alone. You never will be, no matter how much you choose to live as if you were. So lay down your independence, and become the person Jesus calls you to be.
Lay It Down Today
Who are your “enemies” right now? Again, broaden your definition as far as you need to. Don’t only focus on those who’ve hurt you—again, you hopefully dealt with a lot of that last week—or those who obviously oppose the gospel. Who’s “in your way” right now? Who’s standing between you and what you want? And how is Jesus calling you to respond to them in love, instead of responding to how they’re opposing you?
Release your hold on your way, or your need for vengeance or justification, to God right now. Confess your insistence on your own way—the way you’ve treated God like an enemy—and ask Him to help you receive His love and to help you extend it to others, particularly those you’ve just named. Then, take the steps you need to express that love tangibly, and trust God to be there when you do.