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What? Love your enemies?

A hostile situation with co-workers gave way to a renewed spirit of goodwill as today’s contributor considered what Christ Jesus showed us about the power of God’s love.

Some years ago I found myself in a hostile situation with some co-workers. We had just returned to work after a strike, and there was an air of judgment and negativity toward those who had worked during the strike. Even though I hadn’t worked at that time, I was thrown into the mix because these co-workers did not like me interacting with those who had.

It seemed these angry colleagues were intentionally making my job very difficult, and then they made a false complaint about me to management. In a short period of time the managers scheduled a meeting with me. I felt overwhelmed by fearful thoughts of repercussions and maybe even losing my job.

I often find it helpful to immediately begin praying when faced with a challenge. So I considered the idea that kindness is more powerful than anger and that I needed to love my enemies. Christ Jesus provides an inspiring instruction on how broadly we are to love and how we can do that. First, he said, “Love your enemies.” Then he followed it up with, “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

These weren’t only his words, but the way he lived his life. More than simply being nice to people, Jesus showed us what it means to let God, Love, guide our thoughts and actions. He was a peacemaker whose every thought, word, and deed conformed to the will of limitless divine Love, which the Bible makes clear we each are designed to express as God’s image and likeness.

Recognizing this as our own and everyone’s true nature helps us follow Jesus’ example of loving others and treating them fairly, handling situations with wisdom, and expressing humility in helping others. God’s love is so infinite that becoming conscious of it can bring to light a tangible sense of harmony even in the difficult situations we face.

In my case, prayerfully loving my enemies was the key to overcoming the stress of my situation at work; and I feel it helped turn anger into goodwill. My fear lifted as I realized I could trust in the power and goodness of God. And when I went to the meeting, you can imagine my elation when management praised my job performance and put to rest my co-workers’ complaints. Another valued outcome was a renewed spirit of goodwill I experienced from each of those co-workers.

In her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writes, “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (p. 4). This experience set a benchmark in my life and reminds me how valuable it is to pray, and to practice the teachings of Jesus Christ. Letting God’s love lead us unfolds rich blessings that benefit us and others.

Adapted from an article originally published in the St. Helena Star, June 15, 2018.

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