Letting God Heal Our Hate
Part One: Do You Want to Be Healed?
Finding Our Answer in Him
I’m having coffee at a pancake house with a white friend. We’re trying hard anyway to be friends, so meeting for coffee seems like a pretty good start. We volunteer together on a community board, where we met last year. Quickly, however, we discovered how differently we see things in this torn and angry world.
In political ways, we are miles apart. Racially and by income, we also differ widely. She is white. I am black. She is conservative. I am moderate. She is solidly upper income. I fall somewhere in the lower middle of the pack. By background, we also started our lives in different places. She grew up in the rural Midwest. I grew up in urban Denver, moving to a suburb during middle school when my parents relocated to find “better” schools.
Today as an adult, however, I’m determined to build a bridge with my new friend because we share one vital thing in common. We both profess to love the Lord. We know, therefore, if anybody can reach across gaping social divides, and heal divided hearts, He can. As He taught us, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
I accept that. My new friend does, too.
Yet why are we struggling to even talk? We sit awkwardly, fumbling with our menus, looking for a way to move past our obvious differences and start to connect.
“It’s just so hard,” she finally says. “All this tension! All these horrible divisions going on now.”
”It’s terrible,” I say, agreeing, but I keep smiling at her, trying in a smiley-way to break the ice. “I know how you feel – and I know what you mean.”
But do we really understand the dilemma of our bitter divides? To look, without smiling, at the cold reality of actual hate? Or learn what hate is? Certainly we grieve racial prejudice. And religious bias. And the grievous hate of a California father charged with killing his son for being gay. Or the killing by a white supremacist of nine black church members after their Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. Or the slaughter of 11 Jewish people in the anti-Semitic shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Yet is it any different than Cain’s hate for Abel? Or Absalom’s hate for Amnon? Or the rapist Amnon’s hate for his victim Tamar. Or the hate of Jacob’s bitter sons for their boastful little brother Joseph? “They hated him and could not speak a kind word to him,” says Genesis 37:4. Throwing him literally to the wolves, in a ditch, they pulled him out—feeling guilty—only to sell him into slavery.
It’s all so shameful, we say — swiping our phones to another page or turning our TVs to a “better” channel. Yet what about our own moral hatred—our distaste for that certain political group or co-worker, that pastor or relative, “those” people or “that” vocation — our annoyance so everyday normal we’ve actually grown blind to it. As 1 John 2:11 says: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
The tragic litany of what Greek philosopher Aristotle called misos—or hate—leaves the world in constant turmoil. One hateful attack or incident seems to follow hard on the heels of another.
But what if we, as God’s people, stopped walking so blindly—and rebelliously—in hate? And turned to Him?
Finally weary of our put downs of others’ shortfalls, could we return to the heart of the One who formed us to find our healing for the hate sickness raging all over the world? And our part in it?
Indeed, as we look with pain and hope to God to truly cure the hurt of hate, what in God’s name could we see? What would we do? What would we learn? How would we change? What will we finally allow God to do in us?
In this two-part project, Letting God Heal Our Hate, we’ll dare to believe that God has the answers—and, more important, that God is our answer. As hard as it is to “see” our own blindness, the Lord Almighty is our Healer (Exodus 15:26), but also our Great Provider (Genesis 22:14). Moreover, God is Love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, in this project, I offer Him—His healing presence, His loving touch, His forgiving pathway – to find healing for the conflict that festers, poisons and erupts, daily it seems, in our world, our nation and in so many of our lives.
Getting quiet, we might see Moses, leading Israel though the Red Sea – then into the Wilderness of Shur. There, after three hard days, the people found no water. Arriving at Marah, which means bitter, they couldn’t drink the waters because they were, indeed, bitter – so the people complained to Moses, who cried out to the Lord. “What shall we drink?” Then the Lord showed Moses a tree, and Moses cast it into the waters, making the waters sweet.
There the Lord made a decree to test their faithfulness to Him. As He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
Wouldn’t we find relief if we looked to God to heal us. Heal our physical ailments, yes. But our societal ills, too. Who better to heal, indeed? Healer, in fact, is the Lord’s name. Yahweh Rophe. The Lord who heals.
Unlike the Israelites, who took many detours by their resentful disobedience of the Healer God, what if we turned to Him now? Yes, looked to Him to heal this world, torn almost to shreds by the sins of hate?
What steps, indeed, to let God turn our own misos into lives of love and peace? Yes, to follow the Lord’s unwavering order to put down our arms and “first be reconciled to thy brother” (Matthew 5:24 KJV)?
In this two-part project, we’ll dare return to God to find our healing. Inspired, indeed, by the miraculous healings of the Old Testament and the remarkable healing ministry of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospels—including several beloved stories examined in this series— we’ll explore a seven-step Bible prescription for the healing by our God of our hate.
You’re humbly invited to take the journey with me. Let’s learn together how to let God heal the hate that corrupts the Earth – embedded, indeed, in our hearts and minds. ? As Jesus Himself said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Will we answer His call? For every aspect of our lives, especially our own hate? If we will, He will touch us, change our hearts, and make us whole. Turning our bitter to sweet. Now let us go and follow Him.
“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.” Psalm 118: 5 NLT
Go to God. Ask our Healer for His help.
That was the cry in Boston. After years of fighting and murders, two of the city’s most dangerous street gangs met in the summer of 2006 and called a truce. The meeting—moderated by pastors, social workers, and Boston police officers and held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—had immediate effect. Shootings in the two gang’s neighborhoods dropped dramatically in the first six months after the meeting. Soon a name was given to this wonderful peace: The Boston Miracle.
Gang hate seemed to evaporate. Even better, according to the Boston Globe, “Within days of the two gangs shaking hands on the treaty, members of other gangs began contacting clergy and youth workers to ask for similar peace summits.”
Added one organizer: “They were ready to lay it down. They just didn’t have the mechanism in place.” That mechanism—including weekly meetings with clergy, plus incentives such as tutoring and tickets to Celtics games—helped maintain a nearly three-year stretch without deadly violence between the rival gangs.
But first, the gang members did one simple thing. They asked for help.
That’s what we can finally do. Trapped in a web of hating others—some as close as our homes and jobs, others from afar on the news—we can finally fall to our knees. Help me. Is there any prayerful request more powerful? I need help. And with that, finally God steps in to begin the work of healing our soul’s deepest, oldest, and lifelong hate sicknesses.
I have done this myself. Kneeling by my bed, I have asked the Lord to heal bitter grudges, stony resentment, racial injury, lingering unforgiveness – all while I surrendered.
Then: Help me, Jesus.
The Boston gang members might not have spoken their request in those words. We can see, however, such a prayerful plea in their choice to ask. It’s what we see throughout the New Testament Bible. Somebody in a jam, with no way out, comes running to Jesus. Son of David! Help me.
At first, these requests don’t look like actual prayer. But consider this: the people are talking to God. As well, they’ve run out of options. And isn’t that prayer? Seeking the Lord when we have a great pain? A deep sickness? Or some other great need that only He can address?
Then, we come to Him.
Jesus Himself taught His disciples the power of coming to Him to ask for help. Hearing their desperate plea—“teach us to pray”—He taught them the prayer we call The Lord’s Prayer—and surely you know it. What stands out in His prayer, however, is the Lord’s emphasis on “us.” Give us this day, He prayed. Forgive us our sins, He taught. Calling up the community element of our existence in this life, He then called us to forgive – “as we forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4, italics mine).
Yes, mutual connection is a core element, both of our prayers and our relationship with God – but also of our relationship with others. Especially in those who hate us.
And I’m sure I didn’t want to hear that.
Connect to “those” people? Or “that” group? Or maybe you’re saying: Forgive? Forgive my husband? My co-worker? My boss? My neighbor?
It’s filled with irony, this healing lesson from Jesus. We come to the Lord with our hurt and hate, struggling to pray about it—and, in return, He instructs us to pray to forgive. That’s exacty what happened to me. Praying on my knees, beside my bed one night, pleading with him to take away my racial misos, and put a wallop of hurt on the any people who’d caused it, He spoke directly to my spirit about how to release it all. You must forgive.
It’s a core, heart-deep step in getting healed of our hate. That’s not because forgiveness excuses the other person. It doesn’t. But as the late Lewis Smedes wrote so powerfully in The Art of Forgiving: “We do not forgive because we are supposed to; we forgive when we are ready to be healed.”
We don’t arrive at such insight, however, until we come first to God the Father and ask Him for His help.
Surely that was the Boston gang members’ bold prayer. We need help. How much? A lot. Everything You can provide, O God.
My own request was much the same. Battling in my own strength, I’d tried everything I could imagine to cure my hating heart. For years, I attended diversity conferences, panel discussions, book clubs, city-wide dinners—all sorts of talks, confabs and get-togethers to air out racial laundry. Most were good, positive and well-intentioned.
Nothing actually changed for me personally, however, until I stopped circling around my own solutions and dropped to my knees to seek the Lord’s. The Lord, in fact, awaits such requests. Says the Psalmist David:
“The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.” Psalm 14:2 NLT
Could that be why Jesus, when he meets the paralytic man at the Bethesda Pool, questions the man’s desire to actually be helped? Asks Jesus: “Do you want to be healed?”
The man had made excuses. For 38 years, he lay near the healing pool, never managing to get himself into the water. Now here stood Jesus, the Healer of Nazareth Himself, but the man still didn’t ask for help. Now allow God to turn the question to you: Do you want to be healed?
The Boston gang members cried yes. I certainly cried yes. So did the 10 Lepers in the Gospel of Luke. “They stood at a distance, and calling out in a loud voice,” they pleaded, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:11-19).
Our healing of hate starts there, too. With heartfelt cries that get God’s attention. With wisdom that knows only God Himself can help us. So cry out! I need help. I’m weary of hating my fellow man and fellow woman. Make such prayer your first resort, not your last.When the 10 sick Lepers cried like this, how did the Lord answer? With their healing. “Go,” Jesus told them, “show yourselves to the priests. And as they went,” the Scriptures say, they were healed. (vs.14)
What is our lesson here? Our healing is active. It’s also ongoing. So let’s actively go and actively seek it. Then know this: Our Lord is active and ready to answer. Yes, to answer to even our hate. But first ask Him for help. That’s why He came – to save and heal us from the wretchedness of sin, including our hate.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV
Know the real Enemy.
On a sunny winter day, I email my white friend. Or just my friend? Can I just call her that? My friend? Period.
I should call her that, and believe she’s a friend, indeed. Instead, my mind swirls, looking for reasons to cancel our coffee meeting. I ponder the petty things that seem to divide the two of us—politics, in particular, but also race relations, among other things. I could make excuses for just dropping our fledgling relationship and just say forget it. Sure, we’re professional colleagues and respectful of each other. But the work of being real friends when our points of view clash so dramatically feels hard and troubling. Like a heavy burden.
Then I stop. This burden isn’t coming from God. It’s coming from our enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Especially in relationships. Satan keeps us angry, divided, blaming and distracted—robbing us of peace of mind, but also from effective work for God’s kingdom, even when we’re trying to do the right thing. And be assured, Satan relishes this result. He’s a schemer (Ephesians 6:11). He’a a murderer (John 8:44). He “has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8).
Writing that, I almost pause. Rarely do I ever write about or point attention to Satan, choosing to put my focus on the Lord and my hope in His righteousness, grace, mercy and supernatural power.
But, here in this booklet, we are exploring hate. Spiritually, it’s a tough nut to crack. Allowing God to conquer it means looking boldly at every obstacle, especially spiritual.
Thus, when my almost friend and I keep on reaching across our divide—resisting Satan’s lure to drop our budding friendship and move on—that’s what we’re doing, acknowledging the real enemy, and resisting him (James 4:7).
Then we remember what the Lord Himself warned: Satan is a liar. He’s the “father of lies,” say the Scriptures. Consider the whole reeking description of Satan, as spoken by Jesus Himself:
“He has been a killer from the beginning. The devil has nothing to do with the truth. There is no truth in him. It is expected of the devil to lie, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:43).
Aided by his demons of doubt and confusion, He whispers a constant stream of ridicule about my friend and our budding fellowship. What a waste of time. She’s white. You’re black. You’ll never be real friends. To resist these lies, my friend and I simply keep connecting—refusing to just give up on healing our divide.
My husband Dan and I did that, too. After 40-some years of marriage, we found ourselves in marriage counseling—dealing with a festering, lingering issue. Then we opened our eyes and hearts, and paid attention to our real problem. Indeed, to our real Enemy. As the Apostle Paulreminds believers, our struggle “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and again the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Dan and I weren’t fighting each other, in other words. We were at war with our enemy, who certainly was at war with us and our marriage. In that same way, my new friend and I are in a battle against our enemy’s schemes—so dangerous because they are so subtle.
One of his sneakiest schemes is to “unite” one group of people by stirring their common hate against one adversary or opponent. In this way, Satan can attack with just a mere rumor, hint, distraction, temptation—and typically at our weakest point. Forgetting this, or giving into his attack—instead of trusting the Lord’s righteous power to defeat Satan’s every scheme—we give into hate and sickness, choosing misos over deliverance and healing.
Sound familiar? This lack of healing?
It happened in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown.
The familiar story in Mark 6 sets us down in Nazareth with Jesus after he heals, in Mark 5, three desperately sick people—a man possessed with demons, the woman with the issue of blood and the 12-year-old daughter of the synagogue ruler Jairus. All these healings were miraculous. Moreover, they established that the Lord Jesus is a Healer. Nothing is too hard for Him to heal. These three healings confirm that.
Then something curious happens: Jesus returns with His disciples to Nazareth, his hometown—where the people scoffed. Doubting.
Hearing the Lord teach in the synagogue, many were amazed. “Where did he get all this wisdom,” they asked, “and the power to perform such miracles” (Mark 6:2 NLT) He’s just a carpenter, they said. Just Mary’s son. Just the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. “And his sisters live right here among us” (vs. 3).
Deeply offended by the sheer depth of His power and wisdom, they “refused to believe in him” (vs. 3). And because of their unbelief, “he couldn’t do any miracles among them” (vs. 5). And He was “amazed” at this, their “unbelief” (vs. 6).
It’s amazing, indeed, that needy people, burdened by sickness, would forego miraculous help from the Lord Himself, believing Satan’s lies that He was a nobody. Under our enemy’s grip, we, too, will believe lies—instead of the truth of Christ. Then we, too, turn our backs on our very own healing by letting Satan stir up doubt and self-righteous resentment and hate against others. Worse, we let Satan deepen our negative feelings.
As we see, those Nazarenes weren’t just offended by Jesus they were “deeply offended” (Mark 6:3).
Do you ever feel that way about someone? Deeply angry? Deeply resentful? Deeply disgusted? Deeply annoyed? Recognize such ire for what it is: Satan’s cunning work to keep you from being “reconciled to thy brother”—but also to keep you from being healed of your hate.
Why do I recognize this trap? I fell victim to it. Deeply offended by racial hate I saw reported in the news, I looked for more of it. Turning my antenna to reasons to hate, I found it. Is that your tendency, too? If so, pay attention to this poisonous attitude and reject it.
Then with God “giving us grace” to forgive or love as we submit to Him, “we can resist the devil—and he will flee,” says James 4:4-12.
What a powerful choice—allowing God’s beautiful grace to overcome Satan’s lies. The choice matters immeasurably to God. Too much is at stake, indeed, to choose Satan over God. As John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 3: 15, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
Hate is that dangerous. It can cost us eternal life with Christ. So let us choose well: Christ over Satan. Then, as a favorite Scripture reminds us, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). Even our healing.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3
Let God Change Our Minds
My friend immediately answers my email—the one inviting her to meet again for coffee. “Oh, I’d LOVE to,” she answers.
I’m eager to see her again, too. She has retired from the community board where we met, and we’ve not seen each other much recently. So I reach out, suggesting we connect soon, and she says yes.
Now I have a choice. Go with an open mind. Or go looking for trouble. For the prickly things that still could divide us. Politics and race, in particular. Yet the Bible offers me a healing question, if only I’ll take it to heart:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye…”
It’s a Scripture I’ve heard since I was a small child. Pondering it now, however, I see a truly valuable tactic. Stop looking at specks! Especially in other people.
Instead, I could ask God to open my mind—and heart to another. Then could I just say hello? How’ve you been? How’s your family? How are you feeling? How can I help? Or as Jesus put it: What do you want me to do for you? (Luke 18:41)
When I think of such questions—all non-judgmental—I think, for certain, of Jesus. Remember His gentle, loving, compassionate, healing questions—a reflection of his gentle, loving mind?
Who touched me?
Can you see anything?
Or here’s a question, one of my favorites, asked of two downcast disciples:
What are you discussing together as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
Such a kind and easy question. It reflects Jesus, however, because Jesus isn’t afflicted with a personality flaw that afflicts so many humans: our need to think poorly of others to feel better about ourselves.
In contrast, consider how Christ reacted on the very morning He arose from the dead: Now the Conqueror of death itself, Jesus could’ve prided Himself as He encountered His two disciples: Don’t you know who I am?
Instead, when he saw the two disciples walking along, looking downcast, believing their beloved Jesus is dead and gone, Jesus simply asked:
What are you talking about together as you walk along?
Respectful and kind, the question is notable because it reflects the gracious mind of the One who asked it. Notice, indeed, there’s no judgement in it.
In contrast, my questions can be demeaning, condemning, even rude. You voted for that person? You support those stupid policies? You believe that garbage? Are you kidding me?
Such questions never would pass the mouth of Christ. Because they never would find a home in His mind.
Yet, sadly, we pummel each other all the time with such putdowns. Thinking we’re smarter or better than others, we “devalue” others with our mouths, psychologists say, to make our minds feel better—especially when we secretly think poorly about ourselves.
What’s going on here? The things we hate about others are the things we fear within ourselves. Such twisted thinking allows us to “project” onto others the thing we fear or hate most in ourselves. Then, as psychologists say, we reach this wrong conclusion: “I’m not terrible; you are.”
Or as Jesus said, indeed, “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye?”
In my country, the U.S., where some 953 hate groups are identified as active, this projection appears to be rampant and growing. But what about our own personal hate?
I’m certainly not in a hate group, and you probably aren’t either. But do we bring down our nation’s culture by seeing, as Jesus warns, that “speck of sawdust” in another’s eye while ignoring “the plank” in our own? By building ourselves up by bringing others down? By fixating on the other guy’s shortcomings in order not to face our own?
Considering this possibility gives me great pause. Do I value myself so poorly I need to devalue another person—even a potential friend—by putting her down in my mind?
If so, Jesus quiets our confused minds by simply loving us. Warts and all. So for me, He loves my nerdy personality. My introversion. My feelings of unworth. My lack of faith. My lack of love. My doubt?
And your own doubt? That is how, indeed, he loves the doubting father in Mark 9. Christ’s love matters because doubt is a plank that can blind us to our own shortcomings—to the ways we stand in the way of our healing, especially the healing of our hate. Thus, the dad in this gospel story sounds rather angry, in fact.
His son is afflicted with an “impure spirit” which robs the boys of his speech. Seizing the boy, the impure spirit “throws him to the ground,” says the angry father. The boy then “foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.” This is bad enough, complains the father, but when he asks Jesus’ disciples to drive out the spirit, “they could not” (Mark 9:17-18).
Complaining, indeed, this dad sounds like many of us. He blames life obstacles on other people’s shortcomings. This dad even dares to question Jesus’ ability to heal the problem. “If you can do anything,” the dad says to Jesus, “take pity on us and help us.”
Wait. If Jesus can? The question seems ridiculous. The Lord’s ability is not the problem. Nor is hate in the world our only real problem. The real problem is our misos thinking that results in a lack of faith, even in the Lord’s ability and willingness to heal it. As Jesus says in this story, repeating the man’s question back to him:
“If you can?” He shines a light on the ludicrous question, showing just how confused the man’s thinking is. As Jesus explains: “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Give God our minds, in other words, and doubt and blame vanish. Then the light comes on for the dad. Seeing his own problem—his own “plank”—his own part in his son’s lack of healing, he exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24).
Talk about a healing mind shift. With the light of Christ pouring into his closed thinking, he finally can pray on point for the son whom he loves. Not fix your disciples, Jesus. Or what’s taking you so long, Jesus. But finally, “Help my unbelief.
And in reply to that beautiful prayer, Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, which came out of the boy so violently, the child appeared dead. So Jesus “took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet,” and the boy stood up. Healed. (vv. 27)
Amazing ? A God-renewed mind changes everything. Pondering that, I can go meet my friend and, with holy thinking, suddenly see all the things Jesus loves in her. Her kindness. Her charity. Her devotion to Christ. Her love for His Church. Even her dry humor.
“Were you afraid to get together today?” she asks with a wry smile.
I smile back. Then laugh. “Yes!” I answer. “To be honest, yes!” She laughs with me.
Then some ice breaks. We have the best time ever just talking, laughing , connecting. Healed. Thus, will I love her as a friend? Too impossible? Jesus writes my answer. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
“If you follow my commands…I will grant peace in the land.” Leviticus 26:3, 6 NIV
So Obey the Lord
Love your enemies. What good doctor ever writes such words on a prescription form?
Jesus the Great Physician wrote them with His blood on an old rugged cross. Therefore, getting healed of hate by Jesus involves, for me, following his unusual command. Love my enemies. Christ’s healing orders often surprise us, indeed. They seem so unorthodox and illogical:
“Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus told the infirmed man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:8). “Go and wash off the mud,” He told the blind man at Siloam Pool (John 9: 1-11). “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” He told the 10 Lepers (Luke 17: 11-19).
Thus, when it comes to healing our hate, what does He tell us? Love your enemies.
These words, spoken during Christ’s wondrous Sermon on the Mount, must’ve sounded blasphemous to some religious leaders. Their law, as outlined in the Old Testament, was meant for judges to hand out justice fairly. In that way, in the case of personal injury, “the punishment must match the injury,” the Lord said. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. Hand for hand. Foot for foot. Burn for burn. Wound for wound. Bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21: 23-25).
Judges understood such a law. But ordinary people were now taking the law into their own hands, applying it to personal disputes, some probably petty. Now comes Jesus, however, setting things aright, showing His better way—the way of love. As He said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38-42).
Talk about unusual. The Lord upped the ante, however, with an even more surprising command:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you“ (Matthew 5: 43-44).
So I met my friend, a third time, for coffee—which, to be honest, I don’t even drink. I’m a tea drinker. But, as I learned, so is she. “You are?” she asked, laughing with me. Sipping our herbal concoctions, we rediscovered many points of connection. We’re both wives, mothers, daughters, church members, travel fans and deep lovers of Christ and His Word. The inconvenience, for me, of driving across town to a “different” neighborhood to meet a political “opponent” vanished as we sat at a table, obeying the Lord, and simply talked. Talked as friends. Not as enemies.
The word “enemy” in its Latin root inimicus means “someone who is not a friend.” But Jesus says love that person? Who’s not a friend?
For Jesus, it’s precisely such love that transforms an enemy to an amicus—meaning a friend whom you love. Of course, such a change is the work of the Holy Spirit. First, however, we must obey: pick up our beds and walk, wash mud from our eyes, go and tell the priests in our midst. Or, drive across town to a “scary” different neighborhood and break bread. Doing it all with love. Then when we do, Jesus heals.
Consider that blind man at the Siloam Pool. Born without sight, he was suspected by even the Lord’s disciples of being a sinner, or else his parents had “sinned.” (John 9:1-11). Refuting that idea, Jesus set out to heal, reminding his disciples the man’s blindness happened “so the power of God could be seen in him” (vv. 3).
Yet all of us must do the work assigned to us by Him who sent us, Jesus said. “The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world” (vv. 5).
Then Jesus spit on the ground, “made mud with saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes”—telling him to “go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” which means “sent” (vs. 6). So the man went and washed “and came back seeing!” (vv. 7.)
A true miracle. But what made it possible? The blind man obeyed. Yes, obeyed his Doctor’s orders.
True, his cure started with a rather odd procedure (to our view anyway). Jesus spat on the ground to make mud, and then wiped mud on the blind man’s eyes. Yes, with spit the cure started. The cure was completed, however, when the man obeyed. His eyes crusted over with mud, he must’ve struggled to locate the cleansing pool, where he found water and, splashing it on, he washed. Then immediately he could see.
We will see, too, if we wash away our hate by obeying the Lord’s most powerful healing command: go to our enemies and love them. When? Today. This hour. Right now. Yes, go call an enemy to have a cup of tea. Then start discovering God’s stunning ways of healing us.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV
The invitation to let God heal our hate is exciting and life-changing. To learn more, please read the concluding Part Two—“Letting God Heal Our Hate — Loving His Way