Can we really love our enemies?

Jesus makes plain that he is calling on us to practice the kind of universal love that God expresses.

Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on February 8, 2023

The world seems to be filled with good guys and bad guys. The good guys, of course, are those who agree with us; the bad guys are those who don’t. From the viewpoint of an us-versus-them mentality, those on our side are seen as friends and allies, and those on the other side as opponents, sometimes enemies.

And then there are those who are doing things that are harmful to us or to others—those who, in Christ Jesus’ words, “curse you, . . . hate you, and . . . despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

So how should we deal with those who oppose us? That’s a question addressed in an essay called “Love Your Enemies” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. She begins by asking: “Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation?” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 8). The essay goes on to say that we create our own enemies by how we think about people. We believe the enemy is “out there”—that he, she, or they have some kind of objective existence that can harm us. The essay makes it clear that, instead, the enemy exists only in our perception.

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