Sometimes I think we find it easier to “love our enemies” than to love those who simply disagree with our opinions. Our detractors, subjectively speaking, feel worse than our enemies because, truth be told, we rarely engage our enemies in tangible conversation while detractors are often encountered on our own couch.
When Jesus tells us to love our enemies we imagine a face of a different color in a far-off nation--perhaps a face that belongs to a country on which our nation has declared military war. We imagine this face and think, “Yes, I can love my enemy. I can imagine forgiveness and grace.”
But when we are face-to-face with someone who disagrees with an opinion we hold strongly, let’s be honest, it is hard to love that person.
If Jesus tells us to love our enemies, we are certainly called to love our detractors as well. It could be said that imagined enemies are not truly enemies, for in the land of mere make-believe personal threat to one’s sense of entitlement is only minimally actualized. May we learn to love even those who simply disagree, those that we encounter as a real and present threat to self-serving comfort. This is the hard work required to become true peacemakers. To listen to the man or woman standing full-bodied before us, voicing their difference of opinion. To see beyond their words. To view them as a person, rather than a mere obstacle to be overcome. To seek out their heart, to look for—yes—the manner in which even our detractors manifest love. To see the good in another. To fight for solidarity.
Let us not delude ourselves: if we cannot love our detractors, we cannot love our enemies.