According to the Bible, Christians only have four options available for how we treat those who dislike us, disagree with us, or flat-out attack us:
Matthew 5:44-45, "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, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
So, according to Christ, we can only: love them, bless them, do good to them and pray for them. And notice that it's not a suggestion, it's a command. Christ is not asking us to love our enemies, He's telling us to. Are we keeping within those four boundaries when it comes to dealing with those we don't get along with?
That was a thought that I heard from a preacher called T. Marshall Kelly. I thought it was a pretty profound Christian concept and it made me think about my own struggling Christian walk. I am trying to concentrate on one thing at a time in my quest to return to the Way.
I am most certainly found guilty of not treating nicely or thinking nicely about those I don't get along with. Don't you find yourself sometimes harboring little grudges toward someone for hurting you in some way? Perhaps by wounding your pride? Boy I tell ya, try doing a Bible study on pride sometime, you'll be amazed at how sternly God condemns pride. Pride seems to be directly linked to "self". When self rises up inside us, we stop thinking about others and concentrate on ourselves. We stop trying to understand others, and try to make them understand us.
Let's take a quick look at another scripture I thought went along well with this practical application of loving our enemies idea:
James 2:1-4, "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Now, showing partiality is not something that only happens between the rich and the poor? It also happens between those who differ in doctrines. Between those who differ in lifestyle. Even between those who differ politcally. Don't we also show partiality in favor of those we are friends with? Don't we give preference to those with whom we agree and socialize? Let's say you decide to have a Bible study at your house. Would you invite even those people that you dislike, or that dislike you? Those people with which you've argued on various matters? Those people to whom you give only a polite smile when passing each other in Church? Do you invite everyone or do you show partiality?
Imagine you're at a church potluck after the sermon and there is only one spot left at the table at which you're eating. In fact, imagine it's the only spot left in the entire room. A man with which you've always butted heads walks up and akwardly asks,
"Is this seat taken?"
But just then, walking toward the table smiling, you spot your best friend! You reply to man who asked to sit down,
"Yes, sorry. I'm saving this seat for my friend. Here he comes now."
Then your friend walks up and you usher him into the seat and share a wonderful meal and conversation.
What you didn't notice was that since you didn't let that man sit down, he wandered around for a few seconds looking for an open seat, and finding none he stood against the wall to eat his food alone; the whole time hoping no one noticed and feeling the sting of rejection from those who were supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ.
It's the little scenarios like these that Christians should be especially aware of. If someone doesn't have a seat, get up and give them yours! If someone doesn't have food, share yours! If someone looks lost, show them the way. It's by caring for those around us that we truly show people the Way.