How to Treat our Enemies

Last Word

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Who really are our enemies? Should we treat them differently from our friends and family?

Certain topics make my blood boil. Abortionists who kill helpless children are doing unspeakable evil, and I want to see them stopped. I remember how I felt when I first saw images of Muslim extremists rejoicing over the bombing of the World Trade Center, and more recently the beheading of Christians in Syria. I’ve seen the pile of shoes from Auschwitz at the Holocaust Museum. Now those are enemies who need to be stopped!

But it’s a little harder to explain my reaction toward people who make fun of creation. My teeth still clench, my throat tightens, and dark thoughts well up out of nowhere. Every time I react this way, I have to check myself. Does belief in evolution really make someone my enemy?

Really Our Enemies?

My gut reaction is, “Of course not.” “People aren’t our enemy, Satan is,” as the saying goes. “We need to avoid labels!” If only it were that easy.

Christ uses pretty strong language to describe anyone who opposes Him and His Word: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). In fact, we are all God’s enemies at some time (Romans 5:10). I was once God’s enemy, and so were you (Colossians 1:21). We don’t resolve the problem by downplaying its seriousness.

But that doesn’t justify the other extreme. Calling people fools and despising them takes us down a path that makes us the murderers (Matthew 5:21–22). We need to solve the problem God’s way. God loves His enemies, and Jesus told His disciples to do the same (Matthew 5:44). Christ set the example. He called us enemies, but unlike earthly kings, He went out and died for us (Romans 5:10).

So all our enemies, even at their worst, are human beings, made in God’s image and worthy of our deepest love. It doesn’t matter whether they are family or strangers. Our goal should never be to crush them but to woo them by words and example. Just as I’m heartbroken over a wayward son or hateful father, I should be moved to pray for strangers as well, that God will shine His light in their hearts.

I remind myself regularly that every person I talk to could join Christ’s kingdom at any moment. God has been patiently working on them their whole life, just as He worked on me before I was saved. You never know when the light may turn on. If you’d met me days before I embraced creation and Christ in college, you’d never believe I would become the editor of Answers magazine!

Thankfully, God never gave up on me. He loved me despite my mockery of Christianity. Indeed, our unnatural love for enemies, which can arise only from the Holy Spirit, is just one more tool God uses to open hearts.

What does this look like in practice? The Bible does not spell out the details of how we “speak the truth in love.” But it gives the main principles and hundreds of examples. Sons of thunder who want to call down fire from heaven can be transformed into apostles of love.

How did Noah build the Ark? The July issue explains how Noah had technology to build a massive Ark and how eight people could care for so many animals. Also learn how God designed cave fish to go blind and how God’s design of adult stem cells has opened exciting possibilities for medical research without killing fetuses.

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