A passage from one of my favorite fiction books, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, is a dialogue between Jesus and the main character, Daniel. It reads:
“Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.”
The boy lowered his head, scowling at the floor. This was not what he had come to find. (p. 224)
Hate is a strong word, and because of its strength, we may not think that it applies to us. In other words, we may not be aware of anyone whom we hate, but chances are that we are aware of people whom we oppose. So let’s substitute another word that may resonate: judgment. “Can’t you see that judgment is the enemy, not men?” Maybe that’s not what we “came to find” (or want to hear).
I believe that every time we judge someone as the enemy, we also oppose and condemn them. But the person is not the enemy, our judgment/pride is. If we remove the judgment and release our pride, we make room for compassion. I think that this sentiment speaks to the biblical passage in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us?” I want to be for people, so it is important for me to take a broader perspective. This challenges me to live out my love for people in creative ways in which I don’t oppose them but stand strong in opposing oppression and promoting healing, with humility. I cannot effectively promote justice and healing if I am acting from a place of judgment/pride. I hear Jesus asking me, “Ani, would you cast a stone—at me?”
It is interesting to me that the author of the book of I John in the Christian scriptures chose to end it with this culminating statement, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” This makes complete sense to me because I have found that judgment/pride can be an idol—something that captivates my attention and receives my allegiance. We can hold on so strongly to (even worship) our opposition of people that we build a wall brick by brick, judgment by judgment, that separates us from our compassionate love.
So the question before me is, “On to what judgment are you holding that is preventing you from being loving and compassionate?” Said another way, “Whom are you hating with your judgment and condemnation?” I hear Jesus kindly and gently inviting, “Ani, give me your idol (judgment/pride), and you will discover the pearl of great price hidden within your heart.”