@robertkwendt || lead pastor
I've been hurt a lot.
There've been times when people have questioned my motives, character, and decision making. Times when people have made me feel beaten down and left me discouraged.
In each of these instances, I've had a decision to make. I could stay down and out, or I could pick myself up and love my enemy well.
While I'm the last one to say that I've done everything right, there is one clear lesson I have learned through it all:
Sometimes, all our enemy needs is a friend.
A friend is there when someone is hurting. A friend is there to share his or her heart and perspective. A friend listens, goes for walks, and loves another through tough circumstances. A friend actively blesses when it can be so easy to passively curse another.
This all takes intentional action. It seeks to give rather than to get. Being a friend is hard, but doing the hard thing is what shapes, forms, and molds us into the best person we can be. As we continue to walk in the ways of Jesus, we're empowered to share love, live a life free of enemies, and be victorious in all of life's circumstances.
Here are a few ways in which love actively blesses in various situations.
1. ...when it's difficult.
There have been numerous times when I started a new workout routine full of all the excitement and adrenaline in the world. That first workout is always exciting. The endorphins begin to fire. And by the end of it, I'm so jacked that I make a giant protein shake and post a picture on Instagram. Nothing will get in my way this time, I tell myself...
Then I wake up the next day.
My body aches. My muscles cramp. I convince myself that I need a day to recover. However, even after a day of rest, the pain is still there. I'm still hurting. I try to reason that one more day off would only help me go after it again...
The reality is that when we face pain of various types, we can easily make an excuse for why we need to rest. Why we need to take a break. Why we should go back to doing the very thing that hurt us.
Our relationships are much like a workout. We're excited about them in the very beginning. Nothing will stop us. But then we get hurt.
Our friend lets us down.
We discover that our spouse is not perfect.
We realize our kids aren't the top in their class.
We get hurt.
Words, actions, and even inaction knocks us over. They leave us wounded and hurting.
The easy response is to retreat. To avoid going back for more hurt.
However, like with workout, growth in our relationships doesn't happen unless we work through the pain.
In writing to those in Rome, Paul says:
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them" (Romans 12:14).
2. ...in all circumstances toward all people.
Paul gives us a really big challenge.
He writes, "Live in harmony with one another. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!"*
This is a big challenge in and of itself. We see how Jesus constantly traveled with, ate with, and associated with the "ordinary people" while the religious elite would comment negatively about it.
In the same way, Paul challenges us to remain humble—to associate with all people. However, he doesn't leave it there. He doesn't tell us to merely enjoy the company of ordinary people. He expands upon that.
"If possible, as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."**
He challenges us to live at peace with all people!
In order to have peace, we cannot have disunity in our relationships. We cannot view others as enemies. We instead need to see our enemies as friends.
In order to do this, we must resolve to live without enemies. Sure, people may have their problems with us. We can't control what someone else is thinking. But we can control how we act, respond, and think.
When we no longer live with enemies, but see everyone as friends—or we at least seek peace with everyone—our life becomes a whole lot more peaceful. Grudges, resentments, and anger no longer hold us back. Then joy, blessing, and encouragement move us forward.
3. ...through doing good to all.
Paul writes, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."***
The way to overcoming the "evil" in our lives is to out love him or her. I remember the day when I was a young boy and my dad was trying to make me more into a man.
He wanted me to stand up for myself. He wanted me to be strong. So he would say, "Son, don't let them bully you. Fight back. Stand your ground. Don't be pushed around."
While I understood his manly advice, I've realized that fighting back only leads to a bigger fight. Instead, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. To bless rather than to curse. To hand out love when we so easily want to bring the fist of justice.
How do we overcome our enemy? We out-love him or her.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink."****
At the root of every bully is a deep need for something. Often, people lash out or hurt us out of their own pains, struggles, and insecurities. They push us down so they can feel bigger, taller, and stronger.
Yet they're still left with an emptiness that needs to be filled. They're still hungry or thirsty. So what are we to do? We're called to feed him or her. We're to offer him or her a drink.
We are called to actively seek to give out a blessing—even when it is hard. Because at the end of the day...
Sometimes, all our enemy needs is a friend.
Who is an "enemy" in your life?
How can you bless him or her this week?