Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Love your enemies - how?

In Unitarian Universalism we covenant together to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person as well as justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. What does it take to implement and apply these two principles? Ultimately what it takes is forgiveness.

In Murray Bowen's model of family systems, the concept of the cut off is very significant. Bowen's model is trans generational and he points out that cut-offs can go on for generations as was the case of the Capulets and the Montagues in Romeo and Juliet, or the Hatfields and the McCoys here in the United States that lead to the deadly blood feud in which many family members were killed.

Cut-offs, "estrangements," is the more common word, are very common. These estrangements are often bitter, resentful, full of grudges and recrimination, and often vengeance and retribution. Jesus, God bless Him, says that we are to love our enemies. Goodness gracious! How are we to do that? These others are bad, mad, and/or disloyal. How, in God's name, are we suppose to love them?

The first step is to recognize and acknowledge that in spite of the problems, they have inherent worth and dignity. God loves them as part of God's creation as much as God loves us. Hard to believe but true.

The second step is to be kind to them, that is civil and polite, even when we have our differences. This civil and politeness, even if not accepted and reciprocated, is its own reward because we have recognized the divine spark within the other and intentionally have made a decision to join with it.

The third step is to turn our intention over to the Holy Spirit for guidance and correction. At this point, we let go and let God. We do our best and God will do the rest. It is comforting to approach people with compassion and an open heart when our fears lead us to defend ourselves, close off our hearts, and even attack.

In the Christian prayer, the Our Father, we pray in part "...forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us......."

The fourth step is forgiveness, which simply means, to raise above and change our attitude in a loving direction in spite of what we perceive the other person as having done or is doing. Jesus says as the Romans are torturing and crucifying Him, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If Jesus can forgive his torturers and executioners as they kill his body, it demonstrates that we, too, are capable of doing the same. They killed Jesus' body, but they couldn't kill His spirit nor can anyone kill yours unless you let them.

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