“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44
Boy, if there was ever a case of ‘easier said than done.’
I have to actually love my enemies? Even if that’s the weakest sense of love we can think of, it’s still a big ask. I don’t just have to forgive them for doing me wrong, I have to love them for it. From experience, it seems like bad feelings about people who have wronged me take a while to even soften, and there doesn’t seem like much I can do to speed that process up. Even then, not having bad feelings about someone is still a long way from loving them.
Maybe that’s just a best case scenario though. Jesus Christ is a moral exemplar par excellance. Perhaps Christianity doesn’t require us to love our enemies, so much as tell us that’s what we should aspire to. After all, the kind of hatred I feel for my worst personal or political enemies seems to be involuntary. If I can’t help doing something, it seems a little unfair to require me to do it.
Oh, hang on; what’s this a few chapters earlier?