Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love Your Enemies ~ Acceptance

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  Luke 6:27

In this lesson from Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables,  F. LaGard Smith presents one of the clearest and most difficult duties we have: loving our enemies. Our acceptance of our enemies is only possible because we are made in the image of God. Of all the creatures God made, mankind alone was created in the image of God, a blessing which allows us to love and appreciate all His creation with its magnificent beauty and wonder.

The sheep wandering the fields of the Cotswolds may be curious or fearful or hungry, but they don't have our ability to love. The English poet William Blake asked the question, "Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?" You and I can answer that question...we know that sheep aren't aware of their Creator.   

Other creatures--whether sheep, horses, cows, insects or birds--were not created in God's image. Animals don't contemplate life's purpose or nature's beauty. Nor do animals share our moral feelings, ranging from guilt to forgiveness. And even though animals are capable of responding to discipline and approval, they are without the moral dimension of the human heart. You won't see sheep falling in love and getting married, nor showing human emotions, such as hostility or hatred.
It was clear from the beginning that no creature made by God was suitable as a partner for Adam...not even close. Then God made Eve and only Eve caused Adam to say: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," confirming that Man--both male and female--is sublimely different from the rest of God's creation in both degree (as in some upwardly evolving progression) and kind.

And the whole point here is that being made in God's image means that we alone have a unique capacity for moral reflection and choice, a unique sense of aesthetics, and a unique ability to love. These human traits come all together: moral choice, aesthetic appreciation, and the ability to love. If we have  one, we have all--they're packaged together! And no man or woman is without them, while animals have none of them. So for mankind, being created in the image of God means that we alone can reflect His image in a deeper, more spiritual sense.
But, you may ask, how CAN we reflect God's image in a deeper, more spiritual sense? And the answer is: through LOVE. Now this is where our spiritual hearts may get a little wobbly:  we might be comfortable when the Scripture tells us to "love one another" and to "love your neighbor as yourself," but what about "love your enemies"? Can we ever truly learn to love our enemies? As Christians, we must!

Tomorrow I'll finish this lesson about loving our enemies. Meanwhile...have a wonderful weekend!

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