We are told in the Bible that we are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Jesus reminds us that the greatest commandment is to love God with my all, and love those whom God loves (Matthew 22: 37-40). Love is something received and something shared. It’s all about love!
This Sunday we continue the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 6:44). The kind of love Jesus speaks of comes only from God. In the Tuesday morning study group I lead, we have encountered the term panenthiest from two different authors (Marcus Borg and Richard Rohr). I have come to appreciate the depth of its meaning: “God is in me, I am in God, and God is in all things.” (Eager to Love, Richard Rohr, page 142). This is not to be confused with “Pantheism” (all things are God – I am a god).
As I have been introduced to Panentheism, I embrace what I have come to know about it. Panentheism is at the core of Biblical teaching, as well as the teaching of the first century church. It is the foundation of Jesus’ teaching: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” If indeed God is in me, and I am in God, and God is in all things, then this includes my enemies, those I hate, those I have deemed unworthy and worth-less.
The question is how? How do I love my enemies, those who seek to destroy me? The answer finds it’s power and meaning in the depth of my relationship with God, the love I have for myself, and, therefore, the depth of love I’m able to extend to those whom God loves. The next time you are irritated by, and/or in conflict with another; when revenge and retaliation toward the one who desires to harm you seems the only option; stop and look at the other and remember: he/she is a beloved child of God!
To love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you is no easy task. Nonetheless, it is possible centered in Jesus Christ! I look forward to seeing you in church. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you.