Here is the rest of that bible study:
“When we look beneath the surface, beneath the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God’s image is ineffably etched in his being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the redemptive reach of God’s Love.
Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.
An overflowing of love which seeks nothing in return, “agape” is the love of God operative in the human heart. At this level we love people, not because we like them, nor because their ways appeal to us, nor even because they possess some kind of divine spark, we love everyone because God loves them. At this level, we love the person who does an evil deed, although we hate the deed that he does.
Now we can see what Jesus meant when he said, “love your enemies.” We should be happy that he did not say “like your enemies.” It is almost impossible to like some people. “Like” is a sentimental word. How can we be affectionate toward a person whose avowed aim is to crush our very being and place innumerable stumbling blocks in our path? How can we like a person who is threatening us? That is impossible. But Jesus recognized that love is greater than like. When Jesus bid us to love our enemy he is speaking of “agape”, understanding and creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. Only by following this way and responding with this type of love are we able to be children of our father who is in heaven.
Let us move now from the practical ‘how’ to the theoretical ‘why’: why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says “love your enemies”, he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies- or else? The chain reaction of evil- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims.
But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.
Psychiatrists report that many of the strange things that happen in the subconscious, many of our inner conflicts, are rooted in hate. They say, “love or perish.” Modern psychology recognizes what Jesus taught centuries ago: hate divides the personality, and love, in an amazing and inexorable way, unites it.
A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate, we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.
We must hasten to say that these are not the ultimate reasons why we should love our enemies. An even more basic reason why we commanded to love is expressed explicitly in Jesus’ words, “love your enemies… that ye may be children of your father which is in heaven.” We are called to this difficult task in order to realize a unique relationship with God. We are potential sons of God. Through love that potentiality becomes actuality. We must love our enemies, because only by loving them can we know God and experience the beauty of his holiness.
We must, in strength and humility, meet hate with love. Of course, this is not practical. Am I saying that Jesus commands us to love those who hurt and oppress us? Do I sound like most preachers- idealistic and impractical? Maybe in some distant utopia, you say, that idea will work, but not in the hard, cold world in which we live.
My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with wreckage of communities which surrendered to hate and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts.
To our most bitter opponents we say: “we shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win your respect in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
Love is the most durable power in the world. The creative force, so beautifully exemplified in the life of our Christ, is the most potent instrument available in mankind’s quest for peace and security. Napoleon Bonaparte, the great military genius, looking back over the years of his conquest, is reported to have said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have built great empires. But upon what did they depend? They depended on force. But centuries ago Jesus started an empire that was built on love, and even to this day millions will die for him.” Who can doubt the veracity of these words? The great military leaders of the past have gone, and their empires have crumbled and turned to ashes. But the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing. It started with a small group of dedicated men, who, through the inspiration of their lord, were able to shake the hinges from the gates of the Roman Empire, and carry the gospel into all the world. Today the vast earthly kingdom of Christ numbers more than 900,000,000 and covers every land and tribe. Today we hear again the promise of victory:
“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does His successive journeys run
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.”
Another choir joyously responds:
“In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no south or north,
Throughout the whole wide Earth,
But one great fellowship of love.”
Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bowes of nations that refused to listen to Him. May we in the twentieth century hear and follow his words- before it is too late. May we solemnly realize that we shall never be the true sons of our heavenly Father until we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”
Mr. Goodman you attacked me because, you said, I’m a “leftist faggot.” I forgive you. Listen to Jesus.
God bless you,
PO Box 34550
Memphis, TN 38184