‘Linda never had one enemy’.
That headline awhile ago in our local paper jumped out at me. Linda was a homicide victim in a robbery gone bad.
The headline (and the story) indicated that she was a friend to everyone she met.
That got me thinking: Is that a goal worth striving for?
I don’t want to antagonize anyone. I’m sure most people don’t. Many of us want to get along with everyone we meet.
Getting the job done
Work is a good place to practice that. The boss hires a variety of people in the same office to do the same or related jobs. We have no choice but to work together. Whether we become best buddies outside of work is irrelevant, really. We depend on each other to get the job done.
Certainly, we shouldn’t make enemies at work. That destroys morale, and makes working together nearly impossible. There are ways to solve disagreements.
Not knowing the full story
We say or do things for a reason. I may not know why you said or did that. Even if I’m upset or angry with you, I don’t know your full story. Perhaps you have a very good reason for your reaction. (Perhaps not. I don’t know.)
But does that mean right and wrong don’t exist? Is there ever a time when making an enemy or two is acceptable?
I never met Linda, so I don’t know her story at all. But if she never made an enemy, I wonder whether she got involved in anything in the community. If she did anything meaningful. Or if she just slid through life being nice, never causing a ripple, never standing up for herself.
Say something, do something
Because if she did share an opinion or take a stand – about nearly anything – she’d make an enemy somewhere along the line.
Common courtesy says don’t discuss politics or religion in public. There’s a reason for that. Many people have strong opinions on either or both of those subjects, and rarely change their minds.
Did Linda have any type of faith, or did she have political views? If so, she must have kept them to herself.
Otherwise, she would have had an enemy or two.
While I try to get along with everyone I meet, I don’t always succeed. I have de-friended a few people on Facebook, and I have been de-friended more than once as well. I de-friend or un-follow people when their politics turns to hatred. A few of you on the very far left or the very far right cross that line.
Do my politics or faith create enemies?
Social issues and faith
My blog page is titled “the liberal conservative.” How’s that for being offensive? I get involved in certain social issues, which is my liberal side. My faith tells me the Bible is the inspired word of God and every word in it is true (not always literal, but true). That’s my conservative side.
They go together.
Jesus was very involved in social issues. He healed people and talked about justice. He gave women more respect than any other man in His time period did.
Jesus also challenged the religious leaders of His day, calling them blind guides and hypocrites for the ways they imposed their own rules, not God’s rules, on their congregations.
Because of that criticism, Jesus made enemies of a few very powerful people. He didn’t intentionally make enemies, but He didn’t back down when confronted with tough issues either. Those powerful people eventually killed Him.
We Christians often forget that. We want a calm, peaceful, placid faith that gets along with everyone.
Hell is a real place. Jesus talked about it.
Mercy requires a decision
Jesus was very much misunderstood, then and today. Everyone faces judgment. Jesus offers mercy to all. Not all of us accept God’s mercy, but it’s available to anyone who is willing to receive it. That was, and still is, His message.
But accepting Jesus’ mercy means we follow His way of life – which is the best life we can possibly have. That means we will have to change our allegiance from the other things we worship.
Many people aren’t willing to do that, and get angry when Jesus and His followers say things like: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
You either believe that or you don’t. There’s no nice guys third option.
No wonder Jesus had enemies. No wonder Christians are being persecuted and killed across the world in record numbers today.
Do I have enemies? None that want me dead, at least to my knowledge, here in the United States where I live.
But when I say I follow Jesus, I’m also saying that I don’t follow any other religion’s leaders. I’m also supporting a certain lifestyle, instead of other lifestyles. Christianity is true, and other religions aren’t. There’s no middle ground. (Other religions don’t leave room for Christianity either if you truly follow one of them, so it works both ways.)
Take a stand
When the headline says ‘Linda never had one enemy’, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. That tells me she never took a stand for anything meaningful.
If we stand up for something – anything – we will make enemies. Do you support the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo? Other people don’t. Do you support spanking children? Many people oppose you. Do you support how your local government spends its budget? Not everyone does.
We must pick our battles. Some people fight too many battles – they oppose every issue that comes up, it seems. I ignore them, for the most part. They aren’t credible.
Think through an issue before you take a stand. Tell me why you oppose it. Or support it.
If I disagree, at least I will respect you for your thoughtfulness and thoroughness. And you will force me to think the issue through to defend my stance.
If we engage with life at all, we will have enemies. That’s pretty much a given.
Don’t let that discourage you.
Stand up for what you believe in.
But again, pick your battles. Don’t fight all your enemies. Many of them aren’t worth the effort.