“Have you ever looked upon your enemies as those who, in effect, stand destitute before you and, without being able to voice it themselves, beseech you: “Help me, give me the one thing that can still help me out of my hate; give me love, God’s love, the love of the crucified Savior”? All the threatening and showing of fist is really the result of this poverty: it is essentially a begging for God’s love, for peace, for community. When you reject your enemy, you turn the poorest of the poor from your door.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christ’s Love and Our Enemies (Third Sunday after Epiphany, at the secret seminary, Gross-Schlonwitz, January 23, 1938)
This past Sunday, my pastor, Rick White, preached on Matthew 5 and how the church is to be the salt and light of the world. He reminded us that in the first century, salt was used as a preservative in Palestine. This world, he said, is “rotting” from the fall and will continue to do so until the Prince of Peace comes to make all things new, but that the church is to be salt in the world until that time comes. We will never stop the curse, but if we are filled with the Spirit of God, we will hinder its progression.
Often, the church today is screaming a battle cry, fit for war, but Pastor Rick pointed out to us that the Kingdom Warriors described in Matthew 5:1-10 are the kind who bless, and not curse and who love courageously in the face of evil. No one knew this better than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer never shied away from speaking the truth or defending the persecuted, but with the same courage he used to call the church to rise up to defend the Jews against Nazi Germany, he also chose to love his enemies when he was imprisoned for his resistance against Hitler’s regime.
May God grant me the grace today, to follow in his example.