3 When my enemies turned back,
   they stumbled and perished before you.

4 For you have maintained my just cause;
   you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgement.

5 You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
   you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6 The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;
   their cities you have rooted out;
   the very memory of them has perished.

Tragically, like me, HP is unable to maintain an attitude of gratitude and wonder for long. He quickly falls back into anger, resentment and bitterness.

He looks at the world around him and on every side sees threat, violence, pain and loss. He feels beset by enemies and he rejoices in their downfall. There are no doubt times, when such feelings are entirely justified. But, I am called to find ways to discover light even in the midst of terrible darkness.

It is important to hear HP’s words in the context of Jesus’ enormously high calling to his followers. Jesus said:

Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;  and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;  and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.  Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:39-45)

These words sound so unreasonable, almost irresponsible.

But Jesus is not outlining social policy here. Clearly, societies need to create and enforce laws for the orderly operation of the human community. Some degree of order and civility must be maintained, at times using force, although almost certainly not as often as we resort to violence as our primary tool of protection.

But, in my personal spiritual journey, I am not creating social policy for the protection of human communities. I am seeking to live in meaningful life-giving relationship with the individuals I encounter. I aim to be in a way that bears testimony to the presence of Jesus’ loving Spirit at work in my life and in the world.

When I live in tune with the power of Jesus, I have no enemies. Even those who were wielding the whip and nailing him to a cross, were not Jesus’ “enemies.” They were unconscious, damaged human beings living mechanically, driven by the forces of violence and inhumanity that were the prevailing order in their culture and by which they had been conditioned to respond to love with violence.

I have heard the call to live in opposition to these forces of destruction. Therefore, I separate myself here from HP and refuse to look at other people as “enemies” determined to undermine my well-being.

What happens when I stop seeing myself as the victim of enemies and instead view all people as fellow recipients of God’s grace and mercy?

Lord, help me to see all people as Jesus saw them through the eyes of love and grace.