How Does Love Conquer?

By Ryan Dawson

Do you have any enemies or have you ever had an enemy?  Is there someone in your life who has hurt you in some way?  Do you struggle to love your enemies and to forgive those who have hurt you?   These are difficult questions and ones that we all struggle with in some way.  This is not a new struggle as Jesus addressed this very challenge 2000 years ago in the Sermon on the Mount.  

Matthew 5:43-48.  “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.  If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  

This is a revolutionary teaching and one that cannot take root in our hearts apart from the Spirit of God planting it there.  The German pastor, spy, and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, sheds light on this teaching of Jesus when he writes:  

How does love conquer?  By asking not how the enemy treats love but only how Jesus treated it.  The love for our enemies takes us along the way of the cross and into the community with the crucified.  The more we are driven along this road, the more certain is the victory of love over the enemy’s hatred.  For then it is not the disciple’s own love, but the love of Jesus Christ alone, who for the sake of his enemies went to the cross and prayed for them as he hung there.  In the face of the cross the disciples realized that they too were his enemies and that he had overcome them by his love.  It is this that opens the disciples’ eyes and enables them to see their enemy as a brother or sister.  They know that they owe their very life to One who, though he was their enemy, accepted them, who made them his neighbours, and drew them into community with himself.  The disciples can now perceive that even their enemies are the object of God’s love, and that they stand like themselves beneath the cross of Christ.   Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When we start to see people who have hurt us as people for whom Christ died, it helps us move beyond our hurt to love and forgiveness.  We recognize that we share much in common with our “enemies” – which is the need for the grace of Jesus Christ.  Living in this way is congruent with the Kingdom and the Way of Jesus.  So, let’s be found in the Way of Jesus, where the love of Christ in us and through us, conquers all.  

Blessings, Ryan