Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: When Our Enemies Are No More
Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not, Part 3: When Our Enemies Are No More
When Our Enemies Are No More
By Cameron Silsbee
Begin with Scripture and prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Make sure everyone has something to write on or take notes with. To frame your time together, have somebody slowly read Ephesians 4v1-6 over the group, and then have someone pray over your time together as a group.
Read this overview
Political ideologies have long sought enemies in order to motivate people to join their cause. Hatred is a powerful motivational force. This election season is a prime example as both political camps utilize apocalyptic language to communicate the dire circumstances that may happen if the other side were to win. The other side is the enemy, driving the nation toward the edge of oblivion.
The teachings of the Scriptures, and especially the way of life Jesus outlined for his disciples, completely undermines and disarms the attempt to transform our neighbors, friends and family, coworkers, and roughly half the nation into our enemies. The way of Jesus is one of enemy love: praying, blessing, and doing good for those who are our enemies. Whether it’s an old friend who has hurt you, a boss that makes your life difficult, an annoying neighbor, or competing political party, we are called to love our enemies.
But more than that, the way of Jesus redefines who our true enemy is. Rather than focusing on humans as the source of our greatest enmity, the Scriptures speak of the spiritual reality of evil and the spiritual beings and authorities that propagate evil in our world. We are called to come alongside God and fight against the spiritual forces of darkness in our world.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
PLEASE NOTE: This practice is not an appropriate space to discuss and debate politicians and policies. Please demonstrate a willingness to hear from your community without correcting, demeaning, arguing, or inserting your opinion. As you read from Paul earlier, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
- During this election cycle, do you find it difficult to not view others with opposing political opinions as your enemies?
- How often do you pray for your enemies?
- Have you ever experienced something positive as you prayed for an enemy (repentance, a change of perspective, reconciliation, etc)? If so, briefly share it with the group.
Spend some time in prayer.
Invite God’s Spirit to speak over your group as you pray. Then, take a few minutes to listen to God’s Spirit and reflect on your life, bringing to mind anyone you consider an enemy.
Your enemy could be a person you know personally or someone (or a group of people) that you don’t. The reason they are your enemy could be varied. Perhaps it’s from the fact that they have made your life difficult or they have harmed you in a deeply personal way. Or they could be people whose beliefs and actions cause you to struggle to regard them with dignity and to love them. The emotions surrounding your enemy could range from more subtle (contempt and annoyance) to more overt (anger and hostility).
When you’ve taken a few minutes to bring any enemies you have to mind, have someone read these words of Jesus over the group: “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 6v27-28)
For any of the enemies that came to mind, spend some time quietly praying to yourselves, asking God to bless each one of them and to lead you into love for them. Remember, asking God’s blessing for them does not automatically negate any of the harm they’ve caused you, nor does it force you to support any sin or injustice they partake in. Instead, imagine what flourishing would look like for the person/people and ask God to do that. The idea of flourishing from the Scriptures naturally includes a cessation of destructive or harmful behavior by the person/people.
Once everyone is done praying for their enemies, go around the group and share how that exercise struck you (challenging, painful, hopeful, etc). Tell the group something you’d like prayer for so that you can love your enemy.
Discuss the coming week’s Practice
This week, take time to practice Lectio Divina (see below if you are unfamiliar with this practice) through these three texts:
Day one: Colossians 1v21-23
Day two: Luke 6v27-36
Day three: Ephesians 6v10-18
These are the steps of Lectio Divina:
Read: Slowly and carefully read the text to yourself. Take your time. As you move through the text, pay close attention to what words and ideas draw your attention in unique ways. When your focus is drawn to a particular word or thought, pause momentarily to reflect on them.
Reflect: Upon completing the passage, return to the beginning and read again. On your second time through the text, allow it to connect with you personally. Which words or phrases assume a particular significance in your heart, your season of life, or your relationships? Write these down.
Respond: Talk to God about your experience. If you’re confused, say that. Moved? Express gratitude to God. Upset? Tell him about it. If the text has brought something else to mind, talk to God about that.
Rest: Finish your time by sitting quietly in God’s presence. You might express wonder, awe, gratitude, or praise through words, or you might allow yourself to feel and experience these things in silence before God.
Close in prayer