Can we learn to love our enemies, even the evildoers who are part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?The Rev. Philip DeVaull, rector of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Costa Mesa Calif., argues that with God’s help, we can. He writes in the Orange County Register:
As I write this, I am overwhelmed and consumed by Jesus’ most difficult of words: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
The problem with being a Christian is that we cannot take Jesus’ words here as suggestions or lofty goals: We are compelled to see this not as one man’s opinion, but as the truth of how we are meant to live.
So our God tells us to love the people of the Islamic State. And I don’t know how to do that, and I’m not sure I want to know how to do that, and I have no idea how to tell you to do that. There is no love in my heart for these people.
Yet, Jesus’ words remain: Love your enemies.