Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matt 5:44-48). Why? Just as God’s grace gives good gifts to all – even those who don’t deserve it – so are we to do.  God is a moral Being, one who makes choices. Made in His image, we share this ability to choose. And we are told to choose love, grace, and forgiveness, even to those who don’t have it coming.

This doesn’t come easy; it involves a conscious decision to swim upstream. Our own souls are, in their natural state, like the unweeded garden. Through Christ’s work God has given us each a garden, so to speak, but without cultivation  it will fill with weeds. That’s what discipline is about: the focused effort to achieve a goal, in this case the goal of obeying our Lord and to thus know Him better. It involves the developing of good habits: habits of the soul. This always takes work, repetition, and God’s help; He can, and will, give “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

We hit a wall. I think it’s the sheer impossibility of loving our enemies that forces us to God’s throne for help. In fact, I think we should be hitting this wall all the time, acutely aware of our own need for His help. We’ll stumble for sure: so what? Keep trying. I suspect it will get easier as leaning on Him becomes habitual. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. This is a habit of the soul as well, one we must develop, because it teaches us not to depend on our natural resources and capabilities.

Feelings are natural, meaning a part of nature, and therefore reactive. Moral choices and faith are things that rise above that; eternal and underived, the realm of reason and free will is the borderland between nature and supernature. The exercise of our free will is often not a reaction to events, but functions in spite of them. To love an enemy is not a reaction; it’s a choice.


 

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