Wait… I Gotta Love THAT guy?
We’ve all had distasteful people in our lives. People who just rub us the wrong way. I have a friend named Dean, who I have known since high school. He is a couple of years older than me. Dean is a very talented musician and artist – I mean like one of the best bass players I have ever known. He played in a local band that I really idolized back in those days (Eternal Daze). I go to their practices, attend as many of their concerts as possible, defended them against the crosstown rival band (Tank). I was enamored by these guys and their talent. They even had an EP which contained a couple of songs that actually got some local airplay on OK 95 (KIOK in Kennewick). Those were some good times.
My friend Steve and I would often skip school and go to his house while his parents were at work, and we’d play drums all day long, taking turns on his little 4-piece Rogers kit. Stereo cranked up all the way. Perhaps sneaking liquor out of his stepdad’s liquor cabinet (Don’t worry – we marked the label and replaced the lifted booze with tap water, so we didn’t get caught. At least, not until his stepdad realized his scotch just didn’t have the same kick anymore). Those were the days.
Dean would come over and jam with us since he wasn’t in school and didn’t have a job. It was great fun! In fact, Dean, Steve, Chris and I hitchhiked across the state to see RUSH back in 1981. We had some very good times. But Dean could be mean. Real mean. I remember him trying to push me around, making ridiculous demands, even getting into a fist fight or two with him. He had become a sort of enemy. At some point, I just didn’t want to have anything to do with him. What else could I do? Turn the other cheek?
Love him. That’s what. Seems unrealistic. Why would I even attempt to love such an unlovely person? Better to disregard him and stay away from him altogether. But that isn’t what Jesus taught. Not even close. You see, Jesus always challenged the status quo. In His day, the status quo was to love your neighbor, but hate your enemy. Like so many things, He turned that sentiment on its head. And our world is much better for it.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Beatitudes, which came during His Sermon on the Mount. Just following the Beatitudes, Jesus changes the entire worldview on dealing with people like Dean:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt. 5: 43-48 (NIV)
Love your neighbor. Sometimes difficult, but not impossible. But love your enemy? And pray for those who persecute you? Terrorize you? Belittle you and treat you terribly? You can only do this through the power of love that God has for you. He can make it happen.
I lost track of Dean for years and years. But then – Facebook! I’ve changed quite a bit since those days. And so has Dean. He’s over in Wenatchee now, and of course I am here in the Puget Sound. But I don’t hate Dean. I love him – even if it’s from a distance. He’s had some significant health challenges over the last few years, so I have been praying for him. And I sincerely pray for God’s best in his life. This is only possible because I have peace with God. I know how much I have been forgiven of. So how can I hate an enemy when I have been granted so much mercy?
by Kerry "Kry Baby" Skaugset