Love your enemies… for if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? (Matthew 5:44-46)
Like many transgender folk, my ears perk up whenever a talk show features transsexuals, transvestites, or transgenderists, if for no other reason than to see how they are going to sensationalize our experience. A few weeks ago, I caught the end of one of these shows which included a self-styled minister who has an especial enmity toward transsexuals (and I suspect all gender folk). He was on the point of raving, claiming that the other guests were abominations, worthy of contracting AIDS, and at one point he called them “Freaks.”
My first reaction as I watched this man pass off his hatred as the voice of God was anger. Even if transsexualism was a sin (a long stretch to prove that point Biblically), it was hardly in keeping with the character and ministry of Christ to resort to name calling and venomous attacks. It certainly wasn’t the Gospel of Love he was preaching. But, something happened to change my perspective. As I stood alone telling the TV image of this man what I thought about him, God took me out of myself and showed me this man through his eyes.
What I saw was someone more to be pitied than censored. What I saw was a man so filled with anger and hatred that it was eating away at his soul. What I saw was a man who was miserable because everywhere he went he saw things which triggered his anger. Have you ever tried to be happy and angry at the same time? It doesn’t work. My heart went out to him in sorrow and, yes, love.
No, I’m not a super-saint. I just saw this man through God’s eyes for a few moments and I learned some important lessons. I’d like to share these with you.
1. Don’t confuse the weapon with the enemy. I remember someone quipping, “They call them smart bombs, but if they were that smart they wouldn’t destroy themselves.” Being a weapon isn’t any fun, and it’s not something you choose. Your enemy is not the sanctimonious person who condemns you. It’s not the minister who says you’re an abomination. It’s not your family or friends who reject you. Ephesians 6:10 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Those people are the instruments Satan uses to cause you pain. Remember, Satan is called the “Accuser of the Saints.” They are as much victims of hate as you are.
2. Beware, lest you become the thing you hate. If I respond to hatred with hatred, then I become like the person who hates me. This places me always on the defensive. It makes be start looking over my shoulder. It causes me to expect negativity. Like the scripture at the start of this article says, If I only love people who love me, so what. Even sinners do that. Conversely, if I love people who hate me, I emulate Christ who said of the people crucifying him “Father, forgive them.”
3. Win them through your life and your love. I was talking with my pastor a couple of weeks ago about organizing and writing curriculum for our home Bible study program which sort of dissolved after the former director moved out of town. He was in favor and indicated that he expected to see me in a number of ministry positions around the church. Then he said, “You know when you become more visible, you’ll probably hit some opposition. How do we educate those people?” My first reaction, being a teacher by profession and by vocation was to begin a dissertation about theology and specific scriptures and their historical context. But, much to my surprise, I said, “Well, have them talk to me. We’ll go out for coffee. We’ll talk together. Get to know each other. They can ask me any questions they need answered. We’ll pray together and read the Bible. We’ll agree to disagree if necessary.” I might have added, “I’ll love them, and eventually they will either love me back or get out of the way.”
4. Finally, Love is Not Optional. No matter how hateful the others are, you cannot become hateful (i. e. full of hate). That is not an option for the Child of God. I John 4. 7-8 makes it clear. “Beloved let us love one another. For love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God. For God is Love.” I have often quoted that scripture as an attack against those who would attack us. Unfortunately, I’m only now learning to Quote it in Love.
So, beloved Sisters, let us love one another. It’s not optional.