“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies and do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred. When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When others mistreat and harass you, accept it as your mission to pray for them.” Luke 6:27-28 The Passion Translation
Jesus’s Revolutionary Commandment
Love your enemies?? What? That’s crazy talk, and Jesus does it quite a lot. Don’t you love how He takes our assumptions and turns them on their head? Nowhere in scripture does this head turning occur more than in His Sermon on the Mount. I mean, just take a look through it. The poor, meek and grieving, all elevated. Calling a fellow believer stupid is equal to murder. Don’t make a show of your giving. Feel joy when you’re being persecuted for what you believe—oish. If we all actually did what the sermon encourages, what a different world we’d live in—it was truly revolutionary for its time and continues to be.
Still, I think the hardest bite to chew on is to love and pray for your enemies? Even the above verse from the book of Luke—“do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred”?? Yeah, I think I prefer the whole “eye for an eye” thing better personally. Yet, it makes sense. Jesus even says in His sermon in Matthew (5:43-48) it’s easy to love those who are loveable. We show we are God’s children and Christ followers when we don’t limit our kindness to simply our friends who already like us—even the ungodly do that.
So What is a Frenemy?
Good question. It seems when you Google the definition of “frenemy” (because everything on the internet is true), there are various meanings. It’s obviously a blending of “friend” and “enemy” and could mean someone who is close to you, but a rival. Other definitions say someone who pretends to like you to gain certain benefits or connections. Or finally, the definition I’ll go with goes something like–a close friend who can act treacherously at times. Bingo. So, it can describe a close friend (or family member) who both genuinely love one another (no pretending) but at times can work maliciously against each other. Hmm, doesn’t that describe everyone–loving and at moments hostile, vindictive, bitter or malevolent? I know I’ve acted as a frenemy in my relationships (to which friends and family can attest). Yet, it begs the question—why?
Do We Know Each Other?
Well, living in a fallen world can make relationships of any kind challenging at times. But it’s been my experience that as we all continue to live and grow, great shifts can take place. I know I’m not the same person I was even 5 years ago. Maybe you’ve experienced a friend or family member suddenly change their political view, theology, belief system or even identity in some way? One minute you’re pretty much on the same page and the next you’re looking across the divide as if they were virtually unrecognizable. Of course, painful conflict is ready to bubble up at any time.
We experienced a lot of this during the recent pandemic. Family and friends were suddenly at odds with one another over vaccines, the use of masks and quarantining. Many relationships were strained or even worse lost during that season—it’s amazing how “disposable” relationships can be sometimes. I recall many tense and rough conversations with friends over these exact things. Sadly, this happens at WGA quite often, also. Good friends or close family members will shift identities, identity labels, theology or leave their faith. Now it seems we are at odds and go from friends to acting like frenemies. It takes a lot of work for all parties to love each other through these types of conflicts.
Why Should We Love Our Frenemies?
It would be easy to say the reason we should love and pray for our frenemies is cuz Jesus says to do so (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27)—and no matter how difficult this is, it’s always a good plan. But beyond this simple obedience, is following in our Lord’s footsteps. He directly lived out His own sermon in all sorts of painful ways. He washed Judas’ feet even though minutes later he would be betrayed. He restored Peter (speaking of frenemies) even when he denied Jesus three times. And finally, He forgave those who screamed for His crucifixion while still hanging on the cross—“forgive them Father”. How humbling.
What’s even more humbling is He forgives, loves and restores you and me, when we were not just frenemies but actual enemies. Now there’s a reason for forgiving those who have hurt you.
“So if while we were still enemies, God fully reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son, then something greater that friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, and because we share in His resurrection life, how much more we will be rescued rom sin’s dominion! And even more than that, we overflow with triumphant joy in our new relationship of living reconciled to God—all because of Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:10-11 The Passion Translation
Practical Ways We Can Love Our Enemies
For more practical ways to love our “frenemies” check out 6 helpful tips online at Rethink. It could change the world.
- Pray for Healing from Brokenness and Bitterness (and pray for your enemies)
- Practice Empathy (put yourself in their shoes)
- Find Common Ground
- Pursue Unity and Peace
- Be Patient (it might take some time)
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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