I was reading the parable of the Good Samaritan last night and some new thoughts occurred to me.

Trying to catch him out, a clever man asked Christ “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 1/
The Lord didn’t get clever in return. He let the man answer his own question and confirmed he was correct. Love God first and then love your neighbor as yourself.

Still wanting to be clever, our trollish lawyer again tries to catch him out: “And who is my neighbor?” 2/
In contrast to what Ive often heard, the Lord’s response to this was not “everyone.”

It was “your enemy.”

The Good Samaritan’s story is remarkable because it involved loving and caring for someone who was part of an opposing political and cultural tribe. 3/
And, let’s keep in mind, this was during a time when “tribalism” was not a recognized thing. There was no “individualism” or “human family” against which tribalism could be understood.

People simply were born into and died within structures we now think of as “tribes.” 4/
In a way, Christ was teaching men how to exist in one’s own right—how to transcend an understanding of oneself defined by others.

That requires letting go of the idea that your virtue is a function of your identity or beliefs compared with those of others. 5/
To truly love an “enemy” is to recognize an essential part of them which cannot be reduced to their beliefs or even their actions, as well as something other than a threat to your own.

When we love our enemies, we choose a new identity. We put the natural man on the altar. 6/
Isn’t it almost ironic? The path to freedom is not power, but submission. It’s not conquering others, but the self.

I’m not saying evil isn’t real and everyone is your friend. 7/
Sin and evil are very real and they aren’t merely lapses in acceptance and tolerance.

But Christ reserved some of his strongest condemnation for hypocrites—people who justified their internal evil by pointing to perceived evils in others. 8/
Learning to love one’s enemies is a process that will surely drive such hypocrisies out of us.

It will force us to place our various justifications for our own sins at Christ’s feet in exchange for the love and vision only he can give us. 9/
Another great exploration of this theme: nauvooneighbor.org/2021/10/05/ind… 10/10

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