Peace and the Unseen Enemy

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to loving our enemies is recognizing who they are. Enemies are like wildflowers—they bloom in the most unlikely, out-of-the-way places. We're apt to pass them by unless we train our eye and know where to look.

We cannot love our enemies, as Jesus commands, until we know them. Those who pursue the peace of Christ know that we must love those who wish us harm, that we must return good for evil, that we must follow the gospel even unto death. After all, even the most monstrous of our enemies—let us say the Soviets—are made in the image and likeness of God. Christ died for their sins as well as ours.

Those who accept this command have struggled long and hard to love the Russians. It has not been easy for Americans taught from crib to grave of the inhumanity of "godless communism." It is never easy to be called "soft" or "naive" by our friends and neighbors. But with work, prayer, and the Spirit's grace, an increasing number of people are growing beyond their hates and fears to embrace God's likeness in our enemies.

The movements for nuclear disarmament are motivated in large part by Christians doing what Christians should do but find so hard to do—follow their God. We are learning, slowly, painfully, to transfer our trust from the things of this world to the things of God's kingdom. We are learning that our enemies are actually human beings like ourselves.

Yet at times we seem more comfortable loving the Russians than those closer at hand. We may not even think of Americans who oppose our efforts for peace as enemies. Thus we feel no obligation to love them and return good for evil. We may be bitter toward such people. We may fight them at every turn. We may see them as personifications of evil. In our words and acts we may treat them as enemies, while in our minds and hearts we may forget that those we treat as enemies are those we must love as enemies.

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