Thursday, March 22, 2007

What is Undivided Love?

This morning's devotions from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer included these quotes:

"What is undivided love? Love which shows no special favor to those who love us in return."

"We can love our kith and kin, our fellow countrymen and our friends whether we are Christians or not, and there is no need for Jesus to teach us that."

"But he takes that kind of love for granted, and in contrast asserts that we must love our enemies."

"Thus he shows us what he means by love, and the attitude we must display toward it."

- from A Testament to Freedom 320 (A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

For all the enemies we have in society, could a person from the outside looking in describe our treatment of criminals, outcasts, perverts, warmongers, bullies, thieves, liars, murderers, rapists, molesters, etc as one of vengeance and vendetta, or love. Some Christians might defend our prison system or capital punishments laws as tough love. I wonder if Jesus' command to us about loving our enemies is more rooted in restorative justice and redemptive love then tough love.

And what about our military machine...and our response to enemy dictators and violent religions...does our hate, fear and contempt for those nations/peoples who threaten our way of life the best response for Christians? I don't know how to love my enemies. I just know how to be quiet, shy, timid and afraid of conflict. Loving my enemies is not absence of some bad quality. It is action which sacrifices, gives generously, acts with no favoritism.

Who will teach me to love my enemies?

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