Challenging, sobering reflections from John Stackhouse on enemy love.
Originally posted on Prof. John Stackhouse's Weblog:
I’ve been reading the fourteenth-century spiritual advisor Walter Hilton of late. He seems just the right sort of advisor: realistic, patient, encouraging, and yet uncompromising when it comes to what it means truly to follow the path of Jesus Christ.
In a season of the year in which it is easy to get sentimental and silly, Hilton offers this powerful diagnostic tool to assess whether we really do love each other, and particularly whether we can say to Jesus that we are obeying his repeated commandment to love our enemies:
What it really comes to is this: if you are not stirred up against such a person in anger while faking an outward cheer, and have no secret hatred in your heart, despising him or judging him or considering him worthless; if the more shame and villainy he does to you in word or deed, the more pity and compassion you show toward him, almost as you would for someone who was emotionally or mentally distressed; and if you are so compelled by love that you actually cannot find it in your heart to hate him, but instead you pray for him, help him out, and desire his amending (not only with your mouth, as hypocrites do, but with a true feeling of love in your heart): then you will be in perfect charity toward your fellow Christian.