Love Thy Enemy?!
Sounds crazy to us today, imagine when Jesus said it over 2000 years ago.
When I landed in my first Federal cell after the move from County Jail holding, I was fortunate (yes, I see it as being fortunate – now) enough to be placed with Ed, The Contraband King and His Sidekick, Frank. Ed was also the worst of the worst ‘haters’ for people with my charge. The night I arrived he pulled me aside within five minutes of arrival and said I had to move. As a first timer this scared me deeply. In the end, it took a month to the day for me to be moved (others in similar situations were moving within a single day!) I’d probably still be there had I not learned the lesson of “Love Thy Enemy”
I mediated at great length on what I was to learn from Ed’s behaviors and continuous, non-stop harassment. First, I looked for The Joy In The Tribulation, that is always my first thought now as I’m faced with a new, or renewed, trial. I determined, through conversations with the Holy Spirit, that the Joy was in being given an opportunity to grow in my faith. Okay, sounds simple and straight forward, right? Not if you were faced with that type of situation. What growth would you think you’re to experience? I thought patience, tolerance, perseverance and suffering without complaint (Romans 5:3) as well as “Turn The Other Cheek.” So I worked at these things and at night as I prayed after lights out, I’d offer up my experiences and sacrifices as testimony of my growth and go on the next day with exercising these things. I DO believe these are/were things I was to live in this way, even though I’d tried outside. The big difference though is outside I could walk away from the persecution; in here it follows me. Ed was everywhere as himself and embodied in others. It dawned on me that Ed was simply God’s vessel for direct interaction but was/is in reality His one person to represent a much larger body of hate. This revelation lead to a new question: “What Dear God, am I really supposed to learn?” It was obvious to me that all those other lessons were either preparation for, or benefits of, some other more significant teaching. So back to my medications after lights out and during my walks.
One night, as I drifted off to sleep I heard the Holy Spirit again and these are His words, “What are the greatest commandments?” I snapped awake with this thought, “Oh My God, I have to love this man?!”
Mark 12:29-31 “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
My first reaction was, honestly, “UGH”
In the morning I began searching scripture to find out what I was to do! What I found was: “Love your enemy.” So I determined to figure out what that might mean in my situation.
There is so much more to this experience, please come back for Part 2 next week. ~jdoe
Photo Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205247304