Reading today’s StillSpeaking devotional, the writer, Donna Schaper, speaking about Matthew 10:16 (the sheep and doves verse), makes this comment:
“We refuse to create community by finding a good common enemy.”
I have been part of communities created around a common enemy. In these groups we found acceptance that was based on thinking the same thing about perceived wrongdoers, sinners, or ‘false teachers.’ We found camaraderie as we protested, campaigned, and waged war against whatever ‘demonic forces’ were against our beliefs.
And Oh! the joy when we were applauded for a particularly well-articulated tirade against our chosen evil!
One group believed the KJV was the only inspired Bible and seperated from those who didn’t agree with them.
Another believed in positive thinking and positively didn’t like those who didn’t.
And still another proclaimed the demonic influences in any form of psychology, claiming that the Bible alone could cure all your mental health issues (If only it were that easy!)
Each group had its own enemy: people who didn’t agree with or actively campaigned against their point-of-view.
Having a common enemy is a great unifying force. Ask anyone who’s lived through a war. Yet, the command of Christ is to love our enemies (which would make them ‘not-enemies’). How can genuine Christian community be nurtured in an anti-Christ belief that such hatred–no matter how it is justified– is OK?
Donna Schaper is on to a good thing in her statement of rejection. We must reject any attempt at community that is grounded in a common dislike, a common hatred, or a common enemy. Even if that dislike is seen to be so justifiable.
And from that commitment to love without conditions, we may be surprised at what kind of inclusive, accepting–and growing–community may arise.