Some find the power to love their enemies

Some find the power to love their enemies


In his book, “Wounds That Heal,” Stephen Seamands tells the true story
of a young Armenian girl whose village was attacked in 1956 by an
enemy military unit. Her parents were killed, her sisters were given
to the enemy soldiers, and the officer in charge took her for
himself. After several months of slavery and sexual abuse, she managed
to escape, and in time attended school and became a nurse.

One night several years later, this officer was admitted to the
intensive care unit of the hospital where she was working. His
desperately ill, mostly semi-conscious condition required
round-the-clock care. After a lengthy period of time he began to
recover. A doctor told him that he was a fortunate man, for without
the constant devotion of a certain nurse he would never have made it.

Upon recognizing her as the one he had ruthlessly abused, he said, “I
don’t understand. Why didn’t you kill me when you had the opportunity?
Why didn’t you just let me die?”

The nurse replied, “Because I am a follower of one who said, ‘Love
your enemies.’ ”

In recent months, I have often felt an inner satisfaction when reading
reports of enemy terrorists being killed in the continuing conflict in
Iraq. Though I believe our cause there is justified, God has convicted
me that I am supposed to love our enemies and pray for them rather
than rejoice over their deaths into a Christless eternity.

God does not condone their actions. He condemns such evil acts they
commit, and evil must be dealt with lest it spread further. But God
still loves them and desires that they repent and be saved, and so
should we.

There are moral enemies of our nation who push and promote such evils
as abortion, gay marriage, pornography and the removal of God from all
segments of public life. One’s enemies may consist of some within
their own family unit such as parents or relatives who have abused
them physically, sexually, or emotionally. Whoever one’s enemies may
be, Jesus teaches that we are to love those who are our personal
enemies (Luke 6:27-36).

However, Jesus does more than just teach or command us to love our
enemies. He also provides us with both the pattern and the power to do
so. The Bible says that Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example
to follow (I Peter 2:21). When insulted, he did not retaliate. While
suffering, he made no threats. Rather, he bore our sins in his body on
the cross (I Peter 2:23, 24). And he prayed, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Christ is not only our example, but he also empowers us to follow his
example. When one receives Christ by faith, he becomes a new creature
(II Corinthians 5:17) with a new power for carrying out the command of
Christ to love one’s enemies.

That young nurse was enabled by God to love the one who killed her
parents, took away her sisters, and enslaved and abused her for
months. In like manner, as we choose to love our enemies, I believe
God will impart that ability to us as well.

These are the opinions of the Rev. Don Smith of Cornerstone Grace
Brethren Church.

Originally published Saturday, August 28, 2004

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