YOUTH MATTERS: Naming Our Enemy

By Sam Clear, Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation

In recent months I’ve changed up my introduction at student and staff reflection days. When introducing the topic of Christian unity and why it’s so difficult to pursue, I suggest that everyone sitting in the room can likely think of at least one group of people who they believe the world would be better without – without their opinions, actions, bias, selfishness, hatred, etc.

Most people either laugh awkwardly, blurt out the group of people that springs to mind, or jokingly turn to the person beside them and dig them in the ribs.

We all have a great sense of justice, regardless of age or creed, and whether it’s those within the Church who we think are dragging us down, or those outside the Church who we think have set themselves as enemies of God, the act of loving our enemies is exceedingly difficult.

Jesus asks of us, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

A few years ago, I was on pilgrimage in the Holy Land with a group of young adults. One night we gathered in the conference room of our hotel – not exactly the quintessential pilgrimage site – but our guide introduced us to a Jewish man and a Muslim woman. They then shared their stories.

The Jewish man’s teenage daughter had been killed when a Muslim man detonated a suicide vest while standing next to her in a market place.

The Muslim woman’s husband had been killed when gunned down by Israeli police after being mistaken for a wanted criminal.

Both of them shared in depth the day as it unfolded when their worlds were ripped from them, and the grief and anger that ensued. In such a volatile environment ‘the enemy’ is blatantly obvious.

In their struggle, a third party stepped in to help, and did so by introducing them to each other. Through hearing and sharing each other’s grief they were able to more openly name the enemy; not each other, but hatred itself.

And to combat hatred they now employed love. We as Christians are specifically asked to do this daily. Our enemy is hatred, lust, greed, selfishness, but never the person.

Our enemy should walk away feeling loved, even if a strong rebuke for an action is warranted.

“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” (Proverbs 24:17)

Tags: Youth Evangelisation