"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Monday, September 24, 2012

No Christianity, No Life, Apart From Love for Our Enemies

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Jesus said unto him, "‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Mt. 22:36-40)
“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  For if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them.  And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
“But love ye your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk. 6:31-36)
"Everyday experience shows that even people who in their inner depths accept Christ's commandment to love one's enemies do not put it into practice. Why? First of all, because without grace we cannot love our enemies. But if, realizing that this love was naturally beyond them, they asked God to help them, they asked God to help them with His grace they would certainly receive this gift.
"Unfortunately, it is the opposite that prevails. Not only unbelievers but people who call themselves Christians are afraid of acting towards their enemies according to Christ's commandment. They think that to do so would only be of advantage to the other side, seeing the enemy refracted through the distorting prism of hatred as having nothing good in him, that he would take advantage of their 'indulgence' and respond to their love either by crucifying or shamelessly crushing and subjugating them, thus letting evil, as generally personified by his enemy, triumph.
"The idea that Christianity is 'wishy-washy' is profoundly mistaken. The saints possess a force powerful enough to sway people, influence the masses, but theirs is the reverse method – they make themselves servants of their brethren, and thus win for themselves a love in its essence imperishable. By following this course they gain a victory that will obtain 'world without end', whereas a victory won through violence never lasts and by its nature is more to the shame than to the glory of mankind...
The Staretz spent many years in prayer for the world and – we do not know how – God apprised him that so long as such love and prayer continues in the world, God will preserve the world but when love for enemies vanishes off the face of the earth, then the world will perish in the flames of universal discord...
...only good can defeat evil – using force simply means substituting one sort of violence for another." (St. Silouan the Athonite)

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