Honest Christianity: should we have enemies?


It seems to me to be reasonable to conclude that if Jesus is so strong about not hating but loving our enemies, then we will have enemies (Matthew 5.43-48). It does not seem a stretch that if Jesus had not wanted us to have enemies, this would have been the opportunity to say so.

The word that Jesus uses is exthrós – properly, an enemy; someone openly hostile (at enmity), animated by deep-seated hatred. exthros (enemy), implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a personal hatred bent on inflicting harm (exthrós) describes a person resolved to inflict harm i.e. driven by irreconcilable, deep-rooted enmity (Strongs Concordance). These are very powerful definitions.

So why would a follower of Jesus have people who are our enemies? Well it could be a combination of how someone feels about us and/or we feel about them. There are aspects of the above meaning that Jesus clearly says is an unacceptable way for a christian to feel or act towards another person – do not hate. Some of this animosity could be justified in response to oppressive behaviour or one or more other people treating other people, property or our planet in oppressive ways. It seems understandable to me that with the spectrum of behaviour that we see expressed in our world that it is inevitable that I could have enemies, those who I fundamentally disagree with. To take a stance against actions
and attitudes that oppress others, seems to be not only an appropriate response, but a correct one. To call someone my enemy, someone who I with intention and reflection want to identify enmity between us is difficult but when I feel such anger about the abuse of basichuman rights, what else should I call them?

The reflection I have is do I want to think of them as and call them enemies? Is there something to be learnt from child psychology when we are encouraged to refer to the action and not the person – that was a stupid thing to do – not you are studpid! Are there other options even when you are absolutely opposed and disagree with the expression of anothers beliefs and values? I hope so.


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