Grace Escape 2019 - Love Your Enemies

Thirty people were at our Grace Escape Retreat this past weekend. We enjoyed good fellowship and conversation even with the steady soft rain falling around us. We were thrilled that Irma & Cameron McKenzie were able to join us and Cameron’s input on Saturday and Sunday mornings was greatly appreciated. His focus was on loving our enemies. Who do we see as our enemy and how do we love them?

While a dictionary describes enemy as an unfriendly or hostile person; someone with the intention of doing ill to anther person, Cameron suggested the following definition for enemy:
“Anyone or anything I feel threatened by or seek to defend myself against”

Enemies are close enough that we know them by name, even within our self, and they are far away and known only by label or title. It’s the close-by enemies that matter the most, and perhaps the enemy within that is the hardest one to love.

Loving our enemies is not a warm fondness or feeling or sentiment; it is both action and responsibility. To love our enemies, in a biblical sense, involves “our unqualified commitment to the other’s flourishing in their potential in the world as having been created in the image of God, regardless of whether we like them or not.” Jesus tells us to do good to and to bless our enemies. Every person we encounter has been uniquely created to live out God’s image in the world. Our responsibility in loving people is to work toward making that happen for them.

Cameron offered these 9 Disciplines of Love:
1 – pray for your enemy – not, “O Lord, help them see things the way I see them,” but “O Lord, help me see this person the same way you see them.”
2 – do good to your enemy – find a way to enrich their life.
3 – turn the other cheek – open yourself to the other; risk being taken advantage of.
4 – forgive your enemy
5 – break down dividing walls – work to create a redemptive way rather than maintaining barriers
6 – never take an eye for an eye
7 – look for a non-violent response 
8 – spend your life looking for Jesus in other people
9 – holy disobedience – when necessary be the rebel, refuse to cooperate with the enemy for their own good

Because of the rain we were unable to do prayers and communion outside on the rock as has become tradition in the past years. Coming to the communion table was a powerful way to conclude our weekend. Some of the words I said before we shared the bread and the cup were those of Miroslav Volf:
 “The cross is the giving up of God’s self in order not to give up on humanity. It is the consequence of God’s desire to break the power of human enmity without violence and receive human beings into divine communion. . . The cross says that despite its manifest enmity toward God, humanity belongs to God; God will not be God without humanity.”
Scripture tells us that while we were enemies of God we were reconciled back to God through the death of his Son. (Romans 5:10)
“Eating the bread and drinking the wine we remember the body broken for us who were God’s enemies and the blood spilled to establish a new covenant with us who have broken the covenant.
Inscribed on the very heart of God’s grace is the rule that we can be its recipients only if we do not resist being made into its agents; what happens to us must be done by us. Having been embraced by God, we must make space for others in ourselves and invite them in – even our enemies.  Miroslav Volf. Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, Abingdon Press, 2010.

For those of you who were at the retreat, what were your experiences and learnings?

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