A Spiritual Revolution 2 - Love Your Enemies
Chan Gin Kai
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:27-30)
There is so much about Love on popular culture that it shapes how we view and understand it. Rom-coms and sappy serenades give us a saccharine sweet image of love as a warm fuzzy feeling. The sexual revolution gave birth to a no-strings-attached ‘sex-equals-love’ mantra that is celebrated by commitment-phobes. The double-edged anthem of ‘self-love’ that is inscribed on motivational posters and self-help books has lifted many that suffer from a lack of self-esteem, but grown a generation of self-centred narcissists too. Then there are many new terms to define relationships, like ‘BFF’, ‘bromance’ and ‘womance’.
Everyone wants to love and be loved. But few understand what Love truly means.
Love Your Enemies
Jesus gave a definition of Love that defies all human logic and instincts. It is the opposite of what we are naturally inclined to do. How do we love our enemies? Don’t we have the right to retaliate if they’ve wronged us? Wouldn’t forgiving and loving them embolden them?
When Jesus preached that we should turn the other cheek, he wasn’t suggesting that we should not defend ourselves against physical assaults. A slap on the face, especially during those times and even now, is culturally understood as a severe insult. It is more of an insult than an assault. Jesus taught that we shouldn’t respond by insulting the aggressors in return.
When Jesus preached that we should not withhold our shirt, he wasn’t telling us to voluntarily give the burglar the passwords to our bank accounts too. Jesus was teaching us how to deal with people who try to mistreat or manipulate us; by taking control of the situation with generosity and love towards these people.
Loving our enemies isn’t waiting for warm tender feelings that we know will never come. It is to act in love even when we don’t have the feelings of love. This is a hard teaching indeed.
Even as I write this article, unpleasant thoughts of some ‘enemies’ come to mind. For the last few months, I’ve had to deal with industry colleagues who had deliberately poisoned others against me, creating falsehoods in an attempt to justify their own faults and pin blame on me. Although this is rife in the film industry, a very grey world that is full of pretenders, wannabes and giant-sized egos, it hurt especially after all that I’ve done in the past to help them. It took months of wrestling against feelings of injustice before I was able to get to a stage where I can pray for God to bless them.
The Golden Rule
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
Many have quoted the maxim, “Don’t do to others, what you don’t want others to do to you”. It teaches us to use our own feelings as a gauge of what we shouldn’t do to others. Whether they are careless unpleasant words or malicious harmful actions, if we won’t like others committing them against us, then we shouldn’t do the same to others too.
But Jesus lifted the bar higher. He wants us to do to others what we want others to do to us. It teaches us to use our own feelings as a gauge of what we should do to others. Just as we enjoy being loved, encouraged and receiving good things, we should do likewise for other people too.
The former principle discourages us from wronging or hurting others. Jesus’ principle encourages us to love and help others. The former allows neutrality and indifference; Jesus’ promotes positive action. The former decreases hate; Jesus’ increases love.
Love Without Expectation
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.” (Luke 6:32-34)
Anyone can be nice to someone who is nice to him. Anyone can give if he knows he will receive in return. But is that really love, or is that more like an investment? The world is full of transactional relationships. We are afraid of being on the losing end, and assess how much we will receive in return. This is well and good if we’re talking about financial investments, but it is the wrong way to treat relationships.
Jesus fed, healed and loved without discrimination. He knew Judas was going to betray him, but didn’t treat him any differently. God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). In fact, by choosing to love me, He has fully shown that He can love the sinful, unworthy and ungrateful.
We are called to love like God loves.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".