What Does it Mean to Love Our Enemies?

Dear Friends,

We all have people in our lives who actively oppose us or are even hostile to us. 

This is the definition of enemies. They may be people in our personal lives, like family members we no longer speak with, our ex-friends, or partners. It may be people whom you disagree with personally. Enemies are a fact of life. We all have or have had them.

I've had more than my share in the political and pastoral arena. A few years back, I had a letter from someone who read the newsletter describing me as his enemy saying: “You are nothing by a Marxist perpetuating lies about the people who wanted to protest at the Capitol peacefully. You are a fraud with your progressive BS. I’ll throw my copy of your book in the trash where you belong.” And it went on, and there were many others like it. This was mellow compared to the comments I received in my political years.

Today, the number of “enemies” in our lives is increasing as we see our fellow citizens, not as people we disagree with, but as enemies who threaten our way of life.

Jesus defines Christians as different from others for their ability to love their enemies. Most Christians ignore this text.

But what if our enemies serve the purpose of teachers in our spiritual life? What if loving our enemies is the actual test of being a Christian?

I’ll explore these comments this Sunday and hope you can join us,


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Readings for The Coming Sunday:

Matthew 5:43-48 - New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Secrets of Heaven §1285:3

Mutual love and charity bring such people together into one despite the variety among them because it draws unity out of variety. When everyone practices charity or loves each other, then no matter how many people there are... they share a single goal: the common good, the Lord’s kingdom, and the Lord himself.

Dali Lama Tweet 2022:

Compassion naturally gives rise to tolerance and forgiveness. It allows us to appreciate that even someone we think of as an enemy is a human being with a right to be happy. Your enemy can be your best teacher because he or she teaches the possibility of unconditional compassion.

Abraham Lincoln:

“We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely, they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” 

Last Sunday:

Thanks for those who joined our discussion on Finding Serenity in Challenging Times.

One memorable quote from Rev. Tafel's sermon stuck out: "So how can we respond in our storms of life when we're seeking serenity? I do believe that the story of Jesus and Peter today is a beautiful spiritual lesson. I feel like when we are experiencing storms around us, we're feeling overwhelmed. I do believe that Jesus does call us to step out on faith, to do things that can make a difference, and that can just one step at a time. And doing something like that, it can often be seen as a fool's errand, as I'm sure people thought Peter was. But we are challenged to do something, do our part where we can. And that's the hard part. Where can we really make an impact? And where can't we?"

A link to the sermon recording can be found here and a full transcript can be found here. Enjoy!

Overheard on the Grapevine:

Church of the Holy City to Help Launch a Cultural Translator Training Program

We recognize that the future success of the United States is threatened by toxic polarization that is leading citizens away from collaboration and towards violence to navigate our differences.

Church of the Holy City and its affiliate partners will start providing training and coaching for community leaders in Cultural Translation to help citizen stakeholders to see, hear, and value the viewpoints of others and create sustainable, inclusive solutions where all Americans feel they are part of the new country being made.

In the early phase, program participants will be those already interested in this path. In the next step, this training will be done as a core curriculum in every high school and college. We also plan to work with organizations, including faith-based communities, to customize curriculum to their specific needs, particularly as they seek to expand their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy to incorporate viewpoint diversity.

Interested in joining one of the upcoming cohorts? Check out program agenda and upcoming dates above, and apply to join using the link below!

The program is free and open to the public!

Click Here to Apply

Worthwhile Read:

The Timing for Alternative DEI is Here

OpEd by Jesse Singal, the author of “The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills" | Date: Jan. 17, 2023

Diversity trainings have been around for decades, long before the country’s latest round of racial reckoning. But after George Floyd’s murder — as companies faced pressure to demonstrate a commitment to racial justice — interest in the diversity, equity and inclusion (D.E.I.) industry exploded. The American market reached an estimated $3.4 billion in 2020.

D.E.I. trainings are designed to help organizations become more welcoming to members of traditionally marginalized groups. Advocates make bold promises: Diversity workshops can foster better intergroup relations, improve the retention of minority employees, close recruitment gaps and so on. The only problem? There’s little evidence that many of these initiatives work. And the specific type of diversity training that is currently in vogue — mandatory trainings that blame dominant groups for D.E.I. problems — may well have a net-negative effect on the outcomes managers claim to care about.

Over the years, social scientists who have conducted careful reviews of the evidence base for diversity trainings have frequently come to discouraging conclusions. Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects. The lack of evidence is “disappointing,” wrote Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton and her co-authors in a 2021 Annual Review of Psychology article, “considering the frequency with which calls for diversity training emerge in the wake of widely publicized instances of discriminatory conduct.”

Dr. Paluck’s team found just two large experimental studies in the previous decade that attempted to evaluate the effects of diversity trainings and met basic quality benchmarks. Other researchers have been similarly unimpressed. “We have been speaking to employers about this research for more than a decade,” wrote the sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev in 2018, “with the message that diversity training is likely the most expensive, and least effective, diversity program around.” (To be fair, not all of these critiques apply as sharply to voluntary diversity trainings.)

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Thought for the Week:

As we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr's Day earlier this week, we wanted to leave you with his quote: "Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend."

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