Thank God We Don’t Have To ‘Like’ Our Enemies!

We should be happy that [Jesus] did not say, “Like your enemies.” It is almost impossible to like some people. (Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love)

I was in third grade when I acquired my first enemy. Her name was Linda. She was a tall, lanky girl with long dark hair and, I noticed later, rather shifty eyes and a permanent scowl. I had no idea Linda was my enemy until one day in class the teacher called me to her desk at the front of the classroom. She told me I had been talking while she was out of the room. Wrongly accused I immediately burst into tears and denied the heinous allegation. “I swear, I didn’t talk,” I tearfully told the teacher. “Linda told me you did,” the teacher replied as if Linda’s word was the final authority on the matter. I was given a sharp reprimand in front of the class and sent back to my seat. On my way there, I remember seeing the self-satisfied smirk on Linda’s face.

I was in shock from the incident and, to this day, I haven’t the slightest idea why Linda was my enemy. I don’t recall talking to her or obviously offending her in anyway … but she was clearly my enemy from that day forward.

Years later, nothing much has changed. I still don’t quite understand why I have enemies. I’m always shocked to find out that I do. Not because I’m such a wonderful person, but I’ve always tried my best to follow the kindergarten precept of “playing nice.” When people hold some sort of enmity toward me that’s not obviously earned, it puzzles me. How can someone, like Linda, hate me so much without even knowing me? But, alas, they do. They even write me letters telling me how much they hate me and my “filthy lifestyle,” in particular.

I deal with enemies now much as I did in the third grade … avoidance if at all possible. I’m not a fan of confrontation. However, within that avoidance often springs a true and deep hatred for the person who has, for whatever reason, become my enemy. I agree with Martin Luther King Jr., thank God Jesus didn’t tell us to like our enemies. I found it impossible then, and impossible even now to stir feelings of “like” for my third-grade tormentor, or any other of my current declared enemies.

I Want to Know What Love Is

Even though I may never like my enemies, I am commanded to love them … and it’s something I strive to do everyday. More often than not, I fail. As hard as it is to stir feelings of “like” for someone, stirring feelings of “love” can often be just as, if not more, challenging. Before we get to some practical tips on loving our enemies, let’s explore what we mean by “love” in this context.

When we speak about “loving our neighbors” we mustn’t be confused about what kind of love we’re being commanded to exercise. There are several kinds of love. There is eros, or erotic love, or philia, the love of friendship. When we talk about loving our enemies we’re not talking about either of these sorts of love. What Jesus urges us to do is exercise agape love, which King defines as “understanding and creative, redemptive goodwill for all.” King continues, “at this level, we love [others] not because we like them, nor because their way appeals to us, nor even because they possess some type of divine spark; we love every [one] because God loves [them].”

I will never “like” Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan or James Kennedy or Fred Phelps or any other person on the religious right. Their ways do not appeal to me, and though they may each have that divine spark of God in them, it’s hard for me to see it when they begin to spout hateful rhetoric about GLBT people. I cannot muster philia love for them, and perish the thought of eros love! God knows those two feelings of love are impossible for me to even begin to think about when these names are brought up. What Jesus calls each of us to do, however, is to exercise that agape love … that feeling of goodwill toward these people. We don’t have to “like” our enemies, but we do have to stop wishing for evil things to befall them. God does not wish bad things for these people, and neither should we. Our love for them should be redemptive, understanding and creative! Only then can our enemies be transformed into people whom we can love!

Cultivating a Mind of Love

Just because we know the difference between these types of love often doesn’t make it any easier to love our enemies. Especially when our enemies can be so very nasty to us mentally, spiritually, and sometimes physically. How can we develop this agape love that is redemptive, understanding and creative?

In Matthew 22:37-40, while talking to a Pharisee, Jesus clearly spells out the commandment to love:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

As we being to look at our ethic of love for our enemies, this is the place we need to start. Before we even come to a place where we can love our enemies — who are, in reality, our neighbors, since all human beings, friend and foe alike are our neighbors — we must fulfill Jesus’ commandments. We must love God and ourselves.

For GLBT Christians there can probably no more challenging a commandment than to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. How can we love God? Doesn’t God hate us? That’s what we’ve been told our entire lives. Our families, friends and churches have told us that we are an abomination to God and that God gets ill when God even considers GLBT people. How can we even begin to love a God like that?

First, we have to realize that we’ve been lied to. Those people who told us that God hates us for our sexual orientation or gender identities may have had the best intentions. They may have loved us greatly and only told us this out of love and concern for us. That doesn’t change the fact that they’re wrong! God does indeed love GLBT people just as much as God loves all of God’s creation! We are made and blessed by God … chosen by God to receive blessings!

Given all the misinformation GLBT people have been given about God we are unable to start with the directive to love God, but instead we should begin with the command to love ourselves! Only then can we even begin to imagine loving God, much less our enemy/neighbor. We are taught to loathe ourselves as GLBT people and in that loathing we can’t even imagine God loving us so the thought of loving God is often completely out of our reach. So before we tackle the command to love God, let us begin by learning to love ourselves.

Messages of rejection come daily for GLBT people. These messages can be as blatant as someone yelling, “Hey, faggot,” from a passing car to as subtle as the prevailing messages of society that anything not heterosexual is therefore “abnormal.” We are rejected daily, if not hourly! Overcoming that rejection can seem daunting until we realize that we are loved children of God who will never be rejected by the One who made us!

Henri Nouwen is his book Life of the Beloved, gives valuable advice:

… you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended or rejected you have to dare to say to yourself: “These feelings, as strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”

Rejection makes us feel bad, and rightly so! No one wants to be rejected, not by our families, friends, churches or our God. But when attacks come, we must remember Nouwen’s words and see the world for the power trip it really is. Why do people attack us? Sometimes they do it simply to make themselves feel better … to feel superior. Sometimes they do it unwittingly, lashing out at our differences in fear and misunderstanding. Whatever the reason, the attacks do not tell the truth about us.

The most frequent hate mail I get accuses me of being “immoral” simply because I am a lesbian. I am accused of having a “reprobate mind” and “not knowing right from wrong.” I look at their words and wonder who they’re talking about! It can’t be me! None of those words or phrases applies to me! I am none of those things. Instead, “I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”

When attacks come, remember Jesus’ words: “whosoever believes shall have eternal life.” We, as GLBT Christians, are included in that … we too believe and so we are children of God … made by God … called Beloved … and never abandoned by God.

Our love of self is not to be conceited, however. We are called as Christians to live in humility, not exalting ourselves over others, but striving to live in harmony with everyone. That includes living in harmony with God. Once we realize that God has made us and has made us whole, good and complete people, even as GLBT people, we can begin to return that love back to God.

We must love God with our heart, soul, and mind. This encompasses all of the forms of love we talked about earlier, philia or friendship love, eros or erotic love, and agape or the love of “redemptive goodwill for all.”

Loving God with our heart means loving God as we do our friends and family, either our biological families or our chosen families. These are the people who have our hearts! We would do anything for these people. All they have to do is ask! These people are constantly on our minds and often we can’t help but tell other people about how much these people mean to us! We are to love God just as we love these friends and family members. We keep God constantly on our minds, seeking to do whatever God calls us to do in our lives … seeking to make God proud of us just as we want our friends and families to be proud of us. Our actions are often dictated by the thoughts and feelings of our friends and families … we seek their advice in times of trouble, their comfort in times of despair and their smiles and congratulations in times of celebration. This is exactly how we are to relate to God. God is with us in all events in our lives, the good, the bad and the indifferent. Just as we include our friends and families in our lives, so, too, must we include God.

Our love of God also must include eros, or erotic love. By loving God with all our soul, we love God just as we do our lovers and partners. Your partner is often called your “soul mate” — someone who makes you feel complete at a core level. Our love for our partner or lover far surpasses that love for our friends and family. Our partners can ask just about anything of us and we will do it. We will move heaven and Earth, walk through hell, sell all that we have, and forsake everyone else, for this person. They complete us in ways no one else can and we can’t imagine our lives without them. This is how we love God with all our soul! There is no act too great or too small for God to ask from us. If we love God with all our soul, we will readily do it! When we love God with our soul, God becomes our passion and nothing will stand in our way of fulfilling what God asks us to do.

Finally, loving God requires agape love … the love of good will. Often there are times that I don’t “like” God very much. Things are not going well, or I feel God has forsaken or abandoned me. In these times I find myself wondering whose side God is on! Is God really my enemy, working for my destruction? Sometimes it can certainly feel that way! In these times I find it hard to muster philo or eros love for God. It is in these times that I must exercise my agape love … and love God with my mind! This is when love becomes a purely mental exercise. I know … in the deepest reaches of my intellect … that God loves me. I see the proof, even in times of trouble. God is with me through my trials, even though I may feel totally alone at times. In my mind, I remember God is always present, always there to love me no matter what. In these moments I practice good will, or agape love, toward God. I know God is not malicious, taking pleasure in my pain, but instead is grieving with me, feeling the pain, despair or loneliness just as deeply as I do. I may not feel it in my heart … but I know it in my head. I love God with all my mind!

Loving God with our minds also calls us to try to more deeply understand God. We know that God’s ways are mysterious and we will never truly understand them until we are made one with God at our hour of death. But, that doesn’t stop me from learning all I can about God’s nature right now! I do that through studying God’s word, reading and studying books about God, praying diligently that God will show me God’s will for my life, and by going to church and forming a loving, caring community of faith with other believers. We love God with our minds when we seek to know all we can about God and how God is working in our lives, in the lives of those around us and in our world! I may never truly understand God, but that doesn’t prevent me from loving God with all my mind and continuing to seek after God!

Now that we know how to love God … and ourselves, how are we to love our enemies? Jesus answer is quite simple, and terribly difficult. We are to love our enemy/neighbor just as we love ourselves! That’s a pretty tall order. If we truly love ourselves, we only want what’s best for us, we’re always looking out for our own interests, doing things that bring us joy and gain. If this is how we love ourselves, then we must love our neighbor/enemy just the same! We must always be looking out for their best interest, doing things that can bring them joy and gain!

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? We’d all love to help each other out and see that everyone gets the best for themselves, right? Hmmm … do I really want Pat Robertson to have the best in life? Doesn’t he already? He’s far richer than I am … far more powerful … commands much larger audience for his message than I do. Do I really love Pat just as I love myself? Honestly? No, of course not. I would take not so secret pleasure if Pat’s riches and influence were gone tomorrow. Wow … this loving your neighbor/enemy as yourself is some tough stuff!

I believe God realizes that it is truly impossible for us to get to a point where we love our neighbor/enemy as we do ourselves … especially if we live in the USA, where individuality and personal gain are the most prized of freedoms. If we’re honest with ourselves we really only love our neighbor/enemy as ourselves when it either does not adversely affect us, or adds directly to our own personal gain. I plead guilty to all counts!

So, should we just then abandon the notion of ever truly loving our neighbor/enemy as ourselves? Certainly not! We are commanded by Jesus to strive for the goal of loving neighbor/enemy as ourselves. Because we seek to emulate Jesus, we are commanded to do these things. Heaven knows we will fail, but it is in the striving that we learn valuable lessons about our neighbor/enemy, our God, and ourselves.

Now that we have an idea of what kind of love we’re pursuing, let us turn now to some practical things we can do to begin to exercise that agape love to those who revile us. First, let me assure you that I write these things for myself as much as I do for those of you who are reading this article. I am not perfect. I have not mastered the art of loving my enemy. I still return reviling for reviling in some letters that I receive. I still give as good as I get on plenty of occasions. But, by outlining for you some of the steps you can take to begin to cultivate this agape love for our enemies I hope I, too, can begin to follow these steps more consistently and pour forth God’s love on those who hate me.

Practical Steps to Loving Our Enemies

1. Seek to Understand Your Enemy.

Usually we fear things we don’t understand. Our enemy is most often our enemy because they don’t understand us. I get so many letters from people who condemn GLBT people outright because they don’t “understand” how two men or two women can be together in a loving … and especially, sexual … way. Our model of loving does not fit any conventional model of loving they’ve been taught is “acceptable,” “right,” or “moral.” The simply don’t understand gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. Often these people are not interested in understanding us, but we must be keenly interested in understanding them if we are to practice Jesus’ command to us to love them.

Begin by asking questions about this person. Where did they grow up? What kind of values were they taught as a child. What kind of values do they continue to hold as adults? If you grew up in the same environment as your enemy, would you have turned out just like they did, believing and feeling the same things?

People who have grown up in rigid religious systems are not taught that there is an alternative, or another side to the story they’ve known. GLBT people present an alien option to them … one their religious system trains them to reject outright. We probably do the same thing in other areas of our lives. I think it’s odd that some people don’t put ketchup on their eggs. I grew up doing that and don’t understand when others turn their noses up when I ask for ketchup for my eggs. Whether or not to put ketchup on eggs hasn’t garnered me any enemies that I know of, but if we think deeply about our differences and why we have them, we can begin to understand the perspective of our enemies.

Think for a minute about the mindset of the people on the religious right who are our enemies. What I have come to learn is these people are usually, on a very deep level, frightened. They are scared of life’s many ambiguities. They seek hard and fast rules, and concrete answers to every problem life might throw at them. In my experience, many of these people seem to need a list of what’s right and what’s wrong so they can refer to it when the need arises. “Let’s see … homosexuality … check the list … ah, here it is. My religion says it’s wrong, so it’s wrong!” No thinking required, no reasoning required … just say the Bible says it, use the correct verses and viola, they’ve arrived at another easy answer. Next dilemma! In all fairness, that may be a tad simplistic, and I’m certain it doesn’t cover every person who adheres to a fundamentalist point of view, but it helps me as I try to understanding how these people think. They want a black and white world where everything makes sense and God is in ultimate control. There are no grays in their world. Ambiguities, especially moral ambiguities, leave them grasping for answers within a belief system ill equipped to handle them.

Those on the religious right also tend toward legalism. This is another outgrowth of wanting the world to be black or white, right or wrong. Often they get very caught up in the letter of the law, however, and forsake the spirit of the law. Those who use Leviticus to condemn gay people are content to pull the verse out of context and use it, but feel free to ignore other laws prohibiting the wearing of mixed fiber or cutting one’s hair.

Understanding our enemy doesn’t mean we have to agree with their position, but in that understanding we can begin to see our enemy as just another human being struggling with the ambiguities of life just as we do. It is in this moment of understanding that our enemy is transformed into our neighbor. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “When you begin to see the suffering in the other person, compassion is born, and you not longer consider that person as your enemy. You can love your enemy. The moment you realize your so-called enemy suffers and you want him to stop suffering, he ceases to be your enemy.”

2. Let go of your own fear!

Our enemies are filled with fear about us … but the same can be said about us! We also fear what we don’t understand. Just because we’re GLBT people doesn’t make us any less prone to lash out at things we don’t understand. Gays and lesbians routinely condemn bisexuals as “confused” or “trying to have their cake and eat it, too.” GLB people may condemn transgender people in much the same way or see something intrinsically wrong about gender dysphoria. We feel this way because we don’t understand! We feel this way because we fear the difference in bisexual and transgender people.

This magazine didn’t include bisexuals or transgender people in its mission when it first began. That’s because I didn’t understand the problems they faced. As the magazine grew in readership, bisexuals and transgender people began to contact me and ask why they were not included. I honestly told them I didn’t understand them and didn’t feel I could create a ministry to include them. I got an incredible education from bisexual and transgender people who helped me overcome my fear and dispelled a lot of misinformation that I had believed for a long time!

Our fear keeps us from understanding our enemy/neighbor. Often times we don’t even want to meet the neighbor who literally lives next door because of our fear and/or prejudice, much less that theoretical neighbor out in the world! As we seek to understand those who may seek to do us harm, or express anti-GLBT sentiments, we begin to work through our own fears about these people. Once we let go of that fear, we are free to begin loving them with that transforming and redeeming agape love.

3. Let go of your hatred and anger.

In addition to our fear, we must work to let go of our feelings of anger and hatred. It’s easy to hate those who spout lies against us! I have a hard time just looking at, much less listening to, people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. And I’m convinced Fred Phelps is the devil incarnate! But I have to keep working on letting go of my anger and hatred for these people and others like them!

It takes a lot of energy to hate someone or to hold a grudge against someone who has offended us. Often times our anger harms us more than it does those with whom we are angry! I can just think of people who have made me angry in the past and I can recreate those feelings all over again. I can bring those past thoughts and feelings into my present reality and savor them, remembering every word that was said and every action that was taken. I can work myself into quite an emotional state! Buy why? Why do I want to carry that around with me today when the confrontation has already passed? What would be the point? The person I’m angry with doesn’t know and most likely doesn’t care that I’m still delving into the emotion surrounding whatever event took place. I am the only person being eaten alive by my anger and hatred!

We must learn to let it go when others offend us or make us angry. We must learn to forgive them and move on. Forgiveness is beautiful when it can be given and received, but even if it is just given and never received, it accomplishes a lot. I have forgiven many people who have hurt me. But I have not spoken words of forgiveness to many of them, either because I don’t know them [in the case of the person who angered me in traffic] or because the situation is such that I don’t see or speak to them anymore. But the act of forgiveness has given me a sense of peace and a feeling of agape love toward these people that I did not have before! I have let go of my anger and hatred that I harbored against them. I have transformed my anger into love, my hatred into understanding.

Let go of your anger and hatred against the people who seem to so freely hate us and revile us. Forgive them, for surely, they know not what they do!

4. Feel free to love your enemy from afar!

Confrontation is not a requirement when dealing with our enemies. Often avoiding our enemies is the best thing we can do! We know there are many people, and places that are not welcoming to GLBT people. When we are called to love our enemies, we are not called to unnecessarily confront them. We aren’t called to go looking for trouble. Instead we are to love our enemies if they confront us and they most certainly will at some point.

Jesus’ enemies were the Pharisees and the other religious leaders of the day who did not like the message he was teaching. Jesus’ words went against many of the long held beliefs and traditions of the time. Often Jesus engaged his enemies in debates but more often than not you’d find Jesus out among the people who loved him and followed him. He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes and others on the fringes of society. Certainly Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders, but he did not constantly engage them. Instead, he only confronted them when necessary, and spent the rest of the time spreading his Good News of God’s grace and love.

5. Give a gentle and reverent response when confronted.

If confrontation happens, you must be ready to defend yourself. However, we are told in 1 Peter 3:15, that whatever response we give to someone who calls our hope into question must be “gentle” and “reverent.” This is where we get to really practice not returning reviling for reviling. Our enemies can say some harsh things to us, some terribly hurtful things. We cannot return like for like however! We are called to give a gentle and reverent response.

Giving such a response takes practice. When someone comes at us with words of hatred and violence, we want to respond in kind. We want so desperately to return reviling for reviling! It’s certainly easier than having to think about a gentle and reverent response that we can give them! But if we return hatred for hatred, we only perpetuate the cycle of hate! Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.” Returning hate for hate only makes for more hate! Only a gentle response can break the chain of hatred.

One must do much study and preparation if a gentle and reverent response is to be given. Learn now what the Bible says about homosexuality. Learn now the scholarship behind misinterpretations of scripture. Learn now about yourself and your relationship to God. Strengthen your ties to God and rest in God’s loving care. If we are strong in our own convictions about God’s loving grace in our lives then no assault can ever make us doubt that!

Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are to put on the “whole armor” of God so that we may resist evil. That armor consists of truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace and above all the shield of faith! These are the things that protect us when the attacks come. We know the truth — that God loves GLBT people, just as they are. We have righteousness because we are saved by the grace of God. We carry with us the gospel of peace in the form of redemptive and redeeming agape love, and we have faith in our Creator who sustains us through every trial!

6. Walk away!

There is no shame in walking away from our enemies. Feel free to cut off contact when you feel your enemy is either not listening to you or may do you harm. You may have successfully made it through all the steps outlined here when dealing with your enemy. You’ve tried to understand them, you’ve let go of your own fear, you’ve tried to avoid getting angry or hating this person, you’ve given them a gentle response to their harsh words, but still have seen no change in your enemy. This is the when Jesus advised his disciples to “shake the dust off your feet” [Matthew 10:14] and leave.

There is a time when you can reach a point of diminishing returns with your enemy. I’ve been on plenty of public message boards where those who persecute gays and lesbians are unrepentant, even after being corrected in their views about GLBT people or the Bible. Some of our enemies will never stop their persecution long enough to even listen to us. Our responses to them, in fact, only make them more determined to prove us wrong, condemn us to hell, or wish us dead from AIDS. Do not stay in these situations. They can be terribly damaging to you! As experienced as I am at dealing with these sorts of people, I can’t even take their abuse for long periods of time. I frequent places where we are abused, and find I must leave after a time because seeing such displays of blatant anger and hatred becomes depressing! It certainly points up just how hard it is to love one’s neighbor/enemy and how much work remains for GLBT people before we are finally free from the bonds of bigotry and hatred.

Bottom line: If you begin to feel angry, or depressed, begin to despair over the words and actions of your enemy, or feel tempted to return reviling for reviling, “shake the dust off your feet” and get away. We are not called by Jesus to constantly engage our enemies!

7. Find places where you are loved and accepted.

Being in the presence of one’s enemies for an extended period of time can be demoralizing. We need to get away from their negative messages about us and recharge in the presence of people who love and accept us.

Often GLBT Christians discover this safe space within churches that fully accept GLBT people. Others may find a safe place within social groups or a small circle of friends. Wherever you find your safe space, make liberal use of it. Take time to step away from battles or debates with the enemy and soak up the love of friends and other loved ones.

When you spend too long engaged in battle with your enemy you might begin to have doubts about yourself and your salvation. It becomes dangerous at this time to keep engaging your enemy. From time to time I post to public message boards and I’ve found that if I stay in the battle too long I’m tempted to begin returning reviling for reviling. A gentle and reverent response sometimes results in the vitriol of the enemy becoming more intense. The more intense they get, the angrier I get. I want to really tell them to go straight to hell! When this happens I have to step back to prevent myself from becoming the thing I am trying to overcome. I have to return to a place where I am loved and affirmed to recharge so I can continue what sometimes feels like a losing battle.

Take refuge in your safe place as often as you need it, but do not remain there. We must be ready to step out on faith when another assault comes. We must be recharged and ready to show forth our light of agape love to even the most abusive of our enemies.

The Gift of the Enemy

I find myself grateful for all of my enemies, even my third-grade tormentor because she opened my eyes to the reality of enemies. My enemies have taught me a lot about myself. They’ve helped me uncover flaws in my character, flaws in my arguments, and flaws in other places in my life that I may have not ever seen if it hadn’t been for them. You wouldn’t be reading this article, or this magazine if it were not for my enemies! Whosoever is a direct response to the reviling I have received from my enemies. I thank them all for being in my life.

Take time to stop and think about your enemies. Think about the things they have done for you in your life. True, dealing with your enemies has probably not been a pleasant experience, but in the end, I’m betting the experience made you a better person, maybe even a more loving person.

Jesus’ command that we love our enemies is tough … if not completely impossible. It’s something I can honestly say I will never be able to do consistently. I will always find a situation where I will do anything but give a gentle response. Jesus knows this. I think he knew he was giving people an impossible task with this instruction. However, I find that if I’m honestly practicing loving my enemies I end up not having much time to judge them or hate them. Instead I find myself trying to understand them, trying to learn what makes them feel led to condemn me since a majority of them know nothing about me!

In the course of learning to love my enemies I learn a lot about myself. I’ve learned that, if I really try, I can become a more gentle person, a more thoughtful person, who instead of reacting with hatred toward my enemies, can learn to react in love. The act of loving my enemies has transformed me and at some point it may even transform them. Loving our enemies is a process, one that none of us will most likely ever master. But if we begin right now, with even the smallest step toward ending the cycle of hate and violence, others may see our example and follow. That’s the power in loving our enemies … others will follow our example. Even if one person does, then God’s power to transform hate into love has been glorified. As Walter Wink writes: “The change in even one person thus changes what God can thereby do in that world.”

Let us love our enemies, brothers and sisters, and in that act change the world — one person at a time.