"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," - Matthew 5:44
These are words directly from the mouth of Jesus. It's the essence of how Christians should approach persecution and animosity.
This verse provokes a warm feeling in my soul. Then, once I come back to reality, I'm faced with my actual feelings. Thoughts like "That guy sucks. He should be pelted to death with batteries."
It's easy for me to love the people that I actually like; my friends & family. But loving the people that I hate is seemingly impossible. This is a lesson of love uniquely taught by Jesus.
I realize I'm using the word "hate" a little loosely here but, for the sake of this post, I'll keep rolling with it.
How do I love someone that I hate?
Think back to a time when someone really made you mad. A time where you wished real physical harm on someone. What was the outcome?
For me, the other person went on enjoying their life. But I held onto my anger. I lost sleep. I had a bad attitude towards the people I cared about. That hate had a tremendously negative effect on my life.
When we hate someone, it doesn't just stop there. We can't contain hate in just one compartment of our minds. It's a disease that spills over. It starts to infect the good things in our lives.
At times, hate will crush my spirit. My prayer life is damaged. My relationships are damaged. God's heart is damaged. So, back to the question, what does it really look like to love someone you hate?
Love doesn't require you to spend quality time with someone. It doesn't require you to grab lunch with someone. It doesn't even require you to interact with someone.
Though these things are suggested and great ways to keep our relationships healthy & loving, none of them are required.
If there were a Christian version of Hatebreed, this would probably be their album title. It sounds cliche but I really want you to do this. Pray for your enemies.
We can all think of at least one person who we sincerely can't stand. I don't know about you, but my list could go for miles. There's a reason these people act the way they do.
It could be issues with insecurity, pride, neglect, brokenness, betrayal, etc. Negative behavior is the product of negativity. People who live genuinely happy lives don't go around insulting or bullying others.
Pray for the people you hate. Pray that their lives can be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Pray that God puts people in their lives (maybe even you!) that will propel them towards the perfect Grace of Christ.