The Debt of Love Includes Our Enemies
Augustine wrote, “Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved.
The apostle Paul taught that we are to pay all our debts except the debt of love for others and according to Jesus that would include our enemies. But we don’t like to be indebted to anybody. We want to pay back injuries from our enemies or even pay back favors from our friends. We desperately want to keep things even with either revenge or recompense.
This is often the preferred method of the proud, a justice that we control ourselves so that no one can get the upper hand on us. However it is a method that exalts ourselves above God rather than gives ourselves away like God. Jesus’ wondrous works and wise words are not as much the focus of the gospel as is his life and death – his selfless love for us. We can not claim the benefits of a crucified Christ and reject his way of self giving love.
So many of Jesus’ parables pointed to this self giving love: a lovesick father who runs to meet his prodigal son, a landlord who cancels a debt too large for anyone to pay, an employer who pays 11th hour workers the same as the first hour crew, a banquet giver who goes to the highways and byways in search of undeserving guests – all stories of an unnatural self-donation. This self giving love steps over the need for gratitude and affirmation, it steps over the wounds and wrongs suffered at the hands of our enemies.
Jesus not only stepped over our sins, he paid for them while we were his enemies, donating his life in an unnatural act of love so that we might become sons and daughters of the God most high. Jesus is simply asking us to show ourselves as his Father’s children by loving our enemies.