Love Your Enemies

As I stood tall before a judge in a civil case, I waited for the judgment to be announced. I was prepared. I was confident the truth of my statements were sufficient. I knew I stood for what was right, but I was unwilling to look to my left at the individual I perceived as my enemy. Memories as a United States Marine during uniform inspections flashed through my mind. I had spent years standing tall while being inspected from head to toe. I prepared for these inspections to the point I’d be surprised if the inspecting Marine found anything incorrect, yet whispers of doubt had me wondering if I overlooked anything while waiting for the final judgment. But this wasn’t the Marine Corps. This wasn’t about my preparation. This involved a person acting like an enemy toward me. While everyone waited for a judgment to be spoken, I thought, "how could this person get away with false claims?” “How could this person be so deceiving?” “Did their lies convince the judge? “Does the truth matter?” “Would my enemy receive a just penalty?”  

The judge lifted his head and said, “Mr. Walsh, you are free to go.”  Replying, “thank you sir,” I quickly headed for the exit, but as I reached for the door I heard, “Mr. Walsh!” It was the judge! I turned around as he said, “Semper Fi!”  This was the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis,” meaning, “Always Faithful.”  The judge was one of my own! Maybe I was one of his own. Regardless, we were both Marines! Both of the same brotherhood and the same family!  Once a Marine, always a Marine!

Jesus says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:44-47)

I was relieved and thankful when the judge told me I was free to go, but I hadn’t done anything in the courtroom reflecting love for my enemy or praying in response to their persecution of me. I hadn’t even looked at the person I considered an enemy that day. How was I any different from the rest of the world?  What more did I do than others would do? “Paul writes, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). This is a sobering reminder we were all enemies of God at one point, yet He loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us, pay our penalty, and reconcile us to Him. In other words, Jesus died for His enemies and He died for our current enemies. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

As you read this, religious wars, territorial wars, cultural wars, organizational wars, civil wars, and spiritual wars are happening all over the world. These wars are happening in Israel, the Middle East, Ukraine, and cities and university campuses in America. These wars affect Fathers, Mothers, Sons, and Daughters. These wars affect governments, cities, and university students across America; many who are the future leaders of our nation. These wars affect you and I, influencing our perception of good and evil, enemy and friend. But, like my courtroom experience, there is a judge overseeing all of this! It is great to stand tall for what is right. It is great to stand prepared in truth before the enemy. But what do you do when that enemy persecutes you? What do you do when the enemy persecutes your family, your country, or your organization?  What do you do when the enemy makes false claims against you? Do you love them and pray for them? Do you hope they pay for their actions? Do you respond in a way that demonstrates your part of the same family as the judge?

As Christians, the greatest thing we have to offer our enemies and those who persecute us is the kingdom of Jesus!  We earn the right to speak to our enemies about the kingdom of Jesus by showing them that kingdom! We earn the right to speak to our enemies about the kingdom of Jesus by loving them and praying for them. Jesus says do this, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44).

I am honored to be a United States Marine, sharing the same brotherhood with the judge that said, “always faithful.” But, I am eternally grateful I am a son of my Father in Heaven. He is the final judge we will stand before one day. On that day, will we be counted by the Father as enemies?  Or will we be counted as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven?  Sons and daughters who were “always faithful?” 

Father, as Your sons and daughters, forgive us when we are unfaithful to You. Forgive us when we have responded to persecution like the rest of the world. Forgive us when we have not loved our enemies and have failed to pray for those who persecute us. Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace for all nations and all people! Bring peace to Israel! Change our hearts! Change the hearts of Christians in the middle east and America so they love their enemies and pray in the midst of persecution. Lord, I pray that people of all religions would know You! Lord, heal our nation and bring protection and peace to students on university campuses across America! In Jesus’ name, Amen!  

Rev. Jason Walsh 
Vice President, Christian Union Universities

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