To love an enemy
Love is a divine power, the power of God at work maintaining justice and upholding divine rights to health, happiness, and life.
When the Ukraine-Russia war began, my heart sank. “The world doesn’t need another war!” I protested. I was distressed by the developing scenes of armed conflict, but even more by a ruler who seemed to wield massive influence over a large population of people, causing them to believe that war was necessary.
As I prayed for spiritual insight on how to be a healing influence, Jesus Christ’s admonition “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) came roaring to my attention. How to implement it practically, though, was a tough question. How do I love a person whose decisions cause thousands to suffer and die? Am I supposed to overlook the evil perpetrated and ignore its consequences? I wanted to know.
As I considered what I knew about how Jesus handled evil, it became apparent that his counsel to love our enemies was not an instruction to overlook evil acts. Jesus did not ignore evil. He faced it fearlessly and defeated it with his understanding of God’s power. He conquered enemies to life and health with Truth and Love. He saved multitudes of people from suffering by removing the influence of sin, disease, and death from their lives. He saved himself from those intent on destroying him. Love, according to Jesus, did not mean ignoring evil but annihilating it.
“God is love,” one New Testament author wrote (I John 4:8). The love Jesus preached, lived, and demonstrated was the love of God. This love is not just a nice feeling. It is far more than positive thoughts and kind gestures. It is a divine power, the power of God at work maintaining justice and upholding divine rights to health, happiness, and life.
Regarding the world scene, I saw that when Jesus taught us to love our enemies, he was telling us to see the power of God at work right where an enemy appears to be at work. He was not teaching avoidance but engagement. He wanted us to engage with the love of God so mightily that whatever evil an enemy was devising, the love of God would dissolve that enemy’s threat and render it harmless.
We can find evidence that this healing method works in Jesus’ response to the Roman ruler, Pilate, who was interrogating him before the crucifixion. Pilate threatened Jesus with the question, “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” The threat Pilate posed to Jesus’ physical well-being was obvious. But Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above” (John 19:10, 11, New Living Translation). He was not intimidated by Pilate’s threat. He didn’t get angry, fearful, or resentful. He calmly replied to Pilate with a spiritual truth about God’s government, reminding Pilate of the simple fact that he had no power unless it came from God. In that moment, wasn’t he loving Pilate with an impersonal, spiritual love that stripped Pilate of any claim to influence? God was the only power at work, and Jesus knew that.
Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion, but his thought was not crucified. His understanding of the supremacy of good over evil empowered him to triumph over Pilate’s ignorant decision and walk out of the tomb alive three days later. This sealed a victory over evil that has since inspired legions of people to stand up fearlessly against malicious foes. The omnipotence of God had, and has, the final say.
Love knows no other authority, no other influence, no other cause or producer of an effect.
We can put Jesus’ example into practice today. To love our enemies is to be so clear that God is the only power that we are not intimidated by any claim of evil as having power. It is to prove the ultimate reality of the universe—that Love, God, is All-in-all and that evil has no place, power, or position to occupy under God’s government. As light eliminates darkness anywhere light shines, the omnipresence of Love eliminates the perception of evil everywhere Love is active. Love knows no other authority, no other influence, no other cause or producer of an effect. In the omnipresence of Love, Love is All. There is no enemy to fear, to fret over, to resent. There is only Love.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 71). Evil appears real and seems to be acting as a person committing evil deeds. But in truth, God never created a person capable of acting out evil. As Jesus taught, evil is a lie and a liar (see John 8:44) in whatever form it appears. It is a demand on our practice of Truth to strip evil of any claim to being a person acting out evil’s lies. It is to see that evil does not have a mind of its own to plot, execute, or endanger. It is to honor God as the source of all power.
It’s never a person that needs to be destroyed but the evil they are acting out, and any sense of evil is eliminated by a consciousness and demonstration of God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. We can trust the experience of our “enemy” to the wisdom and care of divine Love, which always knows the best way to inspire and bring about reform.
Whether facing a global tyrant, a threatening political leader, a domineering boss, or an intimidating family member, the same rule of “Love your enemies” applies, disarming the perceived enemy and rendering them harmless. In the understanding of infinite Love, evil becomes an empty threat with no future, no destination, no course of action to follow. As Jesus proved with Pilate, evil may appear ominous for a while, but in the presence of God’s might, it fails to accomplish its aims.
Jesus’ admonition to love our enemies is not about turning a blind eye to evil and ignoring its thrusts. It’s about exposing evil’s self-deceits and stripping them of any claim to power by bearing witness to the all-power of God. Christ Jesus taught us to love our enemies because he knew that was the only way to be rid of them. In a consciousness of Love, there is only omniactive Love to feel, know, and experience.