Imagine you have a mortal enemy who has been after you with the intention to kill you. Then one day a door of opportunity opens. You are sitting in a cave hiding out with your friends because this person has hunted you down in the desert of En Gedi. Now your enemy steps into your cave to urinate. With his back towards you he is completely in your hands. What would you do? This was David’s situation and do you know what he did? Absolutely nothing! He reached out and cut off the corner of his coat. And once his enemy stepped out of the cave he presented this piece of coat as evidence that he did not wish him any harm, even though his opponent had every intention of killing him.
This story in the first book of Samuel of the Old Testament could be seen as the ABC of love for the enemy. Christ asks us to do something that goes absolutely against the grain: “Love your enemies”, He says. And by asking us to love our enemies Jesus gives our opponent a human face.
Who is your enemy? Have you identified one lately?
In times of war the opposite side is by definition the enemy. And yet even when we have the license to kill to defend our country, killing people is still deeply disturbing to the human psyche, which essentially explains PTSD. “Post-traumatic stress disorder” became a buzzword in the 1970s due to the diagnoses of U.S. military veterans of the Vietnam War.
It is easy to see that we thrive in times of peace. If a profession was assigned to the human race what would it be? Certainly not professional killer – if anything, we are supposed to be professional caretakers. In the first chapter of the Bible God asks us to look after His creation (Genesis 1:28):
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”
We are here to procreate, spread out, discover the universe and build something new. Murder not only ends the lives of the people we killed, but also kills our spirit and makes us inhuman. Nobody knows the complete picture of the person we call our enemy. It is detrimental to our health to wish destruction on anybody, even without taking any concrete action. Essentially, ill will turns around and becomes our very own nightmare.
God gives sunlight to both good and evil. It is life giving and inspiring to be generous and forgiving. We are made to bless, not to curse.