We Have Met the Enemy

In the spiritual renaissance that I believe to be aborning, it will not be the message of Paul that this time galvanizes hearts, as in the Reformation and the Wesleyan revival, but the human figure of Jesus. And in the teaching of Jesus, the sayings on nonviolence and love of enemies will hold the central place, not because they are more true than any others, but because they are our best chance of checking humanity's suicidal rush to Armageddon.

I submit that the ultimate religious question today should no longer be "How can I find a gracious God?" but "How can I find God in your enemy?" What guilt was for Luther, the enemy has become for us: the goad that can drive us to God. What has formerly been a purely private affair - justification by faith through grace - has now, in our age, grown to embrace the world.

As John K. Stoner, the Mennonite peace and justice worker, has commented, we can no more save ourselves from our enemies than we can save ourselves from sin, but God's amazing grace offers to save us from both. There is, in fact, no other way to God for our time but through the enemy, for loving the enemy has become the key both to human survival in the nuclear age and to personal transformation. Either we find the God who causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, or we may have no more sunrises.

Jesus' teachings about loving enemies is a test of true faith. Just as in the lore of exorcism the devil cannot bear to utter the name of God, so our false prophets today cannot tolerate mention of the love of enemies.

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