My Enemy, My Friend

Actually, my “enemy” is my friend. Think about it: When someone mistreats me, my reaction reveals the state of my heart. All too often, I respond with anger. If my anger were only outrage because God’s holiness had been violated, there would be no sin. Usually, however, other forces are at work, such as pride, selfishness, fear, self-protection, ambition, passion, and the like. Had my goals not been blocked or my idols assaulted, I would not have known how much I love this world and how little I love God and the people He has put around me. With the motives of my heart thus unveiled, I see my sin more clearly. My conscience rebukes me, the Spirit of God convicts me of wrong, and I fly once more to Christ for mercy. A deeper awareness of my spiritual poverty and perilous position before God impels me to the throne of grace, where I discover more of God’s forgiveness than I had known before. Contemplating both God’s command that I love my “enemy,” and my utter inability to obey, I ask for divine assistance. Little by little – and sometimes all at once – God’s mighty Spirit transforms the beast inside me into something less wild and wicked, something with a bit more patience, kindness, and forbearance. God thus demonstrates His immense power to change sinners, and receives even more praise. Then again, my “enemy,” by taking away what I hold dear or preventing me from gaining something I cherish, gives me an opportunity to loosen my grip on what is visible, and pursue what is invisible. His unjust action forces me to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, for I can no longer find satisfaction in anything else. Just as I can’t know how much the things of this world imprison me until I am deprived of what I so fervently desire, so I can only discover the riches of God’s goodness and abundance when I pursue Him with the intensity of a starving beggar. “Rich” men do not “need” God; they are full and satisfied. Only the “poor” seek – and find! – Him in all His wealth of wisdom, power, and love. By making me “poor,” my enemy has opened the door for me to enter the treasury of the Lord. Large portions of the Bible are now illuminated to me. The Psalms, with their urgent cries for deliverance; the history of the early church and the epistles of the Apostles; but most of all, the Passion narratives at the end of each Gospel. Of course, there is no way that I can feel what Jesus felt in front of the jealous Jewish leaders, with His friends in fearful flight. The distance between His deity and my humanity, and His purity and my perversity, prevent me from tasting the bitterness of the cup He drank on the Cross. Nevertheless, without intending to, the person who hurts me, even hates me, has brought me into a closer, richer, and everlasting communion with Christ. Thus, my enemy is my best earthly friend.