You may have heard about the journalist interviewing an elderly gentleman on his 100th birthday.
“What are you most proud of,” the journalist asked.
“That I don’t have an enemy in the world,” he old gentleman responded.
“That’s very inspiring,” the reporter said.
“Yep,” the old gentleman said with a big smile of satisfaction,"I’ve outlived them all.”
If you read the Bible closely, you may just find a truth about enemies, that they’re out there. Jesus pointed out that we all have them, whether we know it not. And Jesus commanded us to love them. Here’s what he said:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, though shalt love they neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
In my decades as a reporter, I’ve been amazed by the number of times I’ve heard friends and relatives say of someone who has been violently killed, “they didn’t have an enemy in the world.” Well, yes, they did. They just didn’t realize it.
Jesus didn’t say love your enemies … “if” you have any.” He included no “if” in his statement. It’s a sad and sobering fact, but there are people out there who will curse us, who will despitefully use us and who will persecute us.
Yet, Jesus commands us to love them. Jesus, of course, modeled that for us. His enemies put him through a mockery of a trial, disrespected him terribly, blindfolded him, plucked his beard, slapped him, spit on him, beat him mercilessly with a whip, ripping flesh from his back and ribs, causing blood to drip from the wounds, and ultimately nailed him to the cross on which he suffered and died. Yet, he loved his enemies through it all. And in the end he said, “Father forgive them for they know what what they do.”
Yes, Jesus has enemies, and so do we. Jesus loves his enemies and so should we.
That’s not easily done. I fear most of us, if we make it to 100, would be like the old gentleman, that we’d smile with a sense of satisfaction, and say we’ve outlived them all.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857.