If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36
Jesus’ questions to the disciples were meant to challenge them to love their enemies. These Words have convicted me more than I care to admit. Immediately, my former neighbor, “Dynamite Bob,” comes to mind.
Bob was a neighbor who made my life miserable for several years. I was nine months pregnant when my husband and I first moved next door, and we worked furiously to settle in as the due date loomed. In the midst of it all, Bob rang the doorbell. Rather than welcome us to the neighborhood, Bob reprimanded us for leaving our unpacked boxes at the curb (two nights before pick-up). Another time, he scolded us for having our sprinkler too close to his yard because the end of his driveway was in its path. He left me to wonder if he scolded God when it rained! Time and time again he corrected us. These interactions hindered me from loving my neighbor. So I didn’t.
One day, Bob installed a large tower in his backyard that was necessary to operate his HAM radio (an amateur radio device) from home. Our yards were small, and the tower was an eyesore, but that was the least of our problems. The next night, after we had finally put our newborn down, we heard voices coming through the baby monitor. After hours of mindless HAM babble, we heard, “10-4, this is Dynamite Bob, over and out.” This went on for months, and continually interrupted whatever quiet time we had. The noise even came through our television! We politely asked him to fix the problem, but he refused to acknowledge the problem at all. But one day it all stopped and never returned. We didn’t look into why, we just rejoiced. Months later we learned Dynamite Bob had cancer and passed away.
I now realize that Dynamite Bob was a lonely man who needed a friend. He communicated the only way he could -- anonymously to strangers across the airways (long before the internet). He didn’t love, or even like me, so I chose not to love him. Jesus would have found a way to love him. Through His own actions, Jesus showed us that we are called to love those who don’t love us. Jesus washed the feet of Judas who betrayed Him and Peter who denied Him. Jesus died for the sins of those who mocked, flogged and hung Him on a cross. Jesus loved His enemies.
Many in our world are easily lovable, and then there are the Dynamite Bobs. Throughout Jesus’ life, He demonstrated that love is more than a feeling. Love is actively aligning our wills with the love of the Father. It is an action word. I have missed so many opportunities, but there are many more that I will come across. Who am I called to love? Who are the other Dynamite Bobs in my midst?