Recently I participated in some informal discussion in a Facebook posting on the subject of loving our neighbor and loving our enemies. In that discussion, some age-old questions were asked that went something like this: “How do we go about loving our enemy when there are others that differ in religion, ethnicity, country of origin, financial status, or one of many other things that separate us? What about non-believers, am I to love them too? What about those who want to kill us? I’m not going to bow down in submission to evil!”
I put myself in the classification of a practical idealist Christian, so I hope that what I propose are practical and realistic answers. The practical idealistic Christian thought maintains that in God’s eyes, there are no differences in ethnicity, religion, financial status, or in any other set of words that could be used to describe what appears to constitute a wall of separation between us. And consequently, there is really no wall of separation between us as there appears to be to our human senses. Jesus said “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. Notice, Jesus did not just say to pray for them, he said to actively go even much farther than that! But it takes a willingness to change mental perspectives to understand how this is to be accomplished, and why it makes good sense.
The Christian idealist believes that he has a practical answer as for how this command can be carried out lovingly and effectively. He would say that Jesus meant what He said in a very realistic sense, but one that requires a change in the way we look at the world and at our own reality. To effectively love our enemies without getting ourselves physically hurt requires being able to develop and implement a completely spiritual frame of reference to reality, and being able to reject the old carnal viewpoint of man – the one we are aused to living by. I believe that Jesus meant for us to not acknowledge evil in our enemies AT ALL, and in fact that he meant for us to to mentally reject the evil in our enemies. This means knowing in our heart that there are no REAL enemies. There are only good and perfect fellow spiritual beings whose spiritual Father, like our own, is also the very same God as the one we acknoweldge. We are not aware and cannot be aware of that spiritual man through our 5 senses. Those 5 senses are the senses that rule the fleshly, carnal, material man. But we CAN be aware of that perfect man, who lives in the spiritual realm of God, and therefore in the real realm of existence within our consciousness now, when our thinking is pure and we walk in the Spirit. I also believe that in seeing the real spiritual identity in others, Jesus realized that all of these human factors, as in the examples listed above, do not have their source in God, but in fleshly man’s thought and culture. Humans know ethnicity, religion, country of origin, financial status, and so on. God does not know these things because they are all of the origin of the faulty thought of the carnal man, the man we are to put off. God is spiritual, and the real, actual man is 100% like him, in a realm far apart from the one we feel that we exist in, in our human lives, yet residing within our human consciousness. Jesus expressed this thought clearly when he said “The Kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21. Take away the material mask of culture and living conditions created by the fleshly and carnal man’s society and habits, and you will discover the real and perfect man.
Both practically and ideally, we can learn to love everyone by developing the ability to see and understand the spirituality which comprises their actual identity. None of us are Jesus. But it’s our duty to be like him. We just do the best we can and try to get better. Like Jesus did, we are to defend ourselves prayerfully and mentally FIRST and ALWAYS, and physically LAST. There is not a recorded instance of Jesus ever reacting physically to an attempt to attack or to harm him. Most humans are not at that stage of development of their self-identity, but it is our duty to do as well as we can. If it were not possible for us to be perfect, Jesus would not have so advised when he said “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:47. Seeing as how we are not yet at the point of Jesus’ advanced state of thought, if someone appears to be ready to cut our head off and we believe we are going to die as a result, we are we to defend ourselves physically if necessary, while all the time knowing within ourselves that it is NOT the person made by God who is attacking us. It is evil that attacks us, and not an evil person. Evil is not a part of anyone and has no source in God, who is pure all-inclusive Love.
This action of separating evil from person makes us stand out from the crowd and empowers us with the protection of divine Love. Jesus also said .Matthew 5:46-48 “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only. what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I believe this to have been Jesus’ constant frame of mind -namely, spiritual perfection. In His thought, I believe Jesus looked on a person and saw God’s perfect likeness. No matter who they were. He only acknowledged enemies to be enemies in a relative sense. You have to use the word enemies to talk about enemies. In his heart, Jesus had no enemies. And, I believe He did NOT lie down for the slaughter, as some may say. Jesus had the power to separate himself from his earthly enemies, had he decided to, but he chose not to do so because he had a divine mission to fulfill, for us. A practical Christian idealist says that Jesus submitted to human death with the objective of showing His enemies (relatively speaking!) that nothing can stop the action of pure Love. There was no submission to evil in the crucifixion, for Jesus arose from death and showed through that act that that evil cannot stop Truth, and in fact this ultimate act of defiance to evil caused Him to rise even higher into an even more spiritual realm,after which He ascended. What better model could man ask for? Jesus Christ was the ultimate!
So I take it to be our duty to conform our thought to Jesus’ thought, which must include trying to understand all of mankind to be spiritual beings, living in the perfect realm of Spirit where He now resides. To be able to love your enemy is the highest form of humility there is.