When you watch crime shows, the saddest part is when the murder victims’ families describe them. It seems like it’s always some sweet and harmless girl who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or was dating the wrong guy. “We didn’t know who would have done something like this,” they always say. “She didn’t have an enemy in the world.”
This gets me thinking. If I were slain by an unknown malefactor, who would it be? In a surprising turn of events, I discovered that I would not want my family to tell the authorities that I didn’t have an enemy in the world. I would like it if, when the police went ‘round questioning people I know, my friends and family would say to them, “Oh, yes. There were a thousand people who hated her guts.” Not, of course, that I wish to become a murder victim. Indeed, I rather make a point of avoiding being slain by unknown malefactors. It’s not a death wish or anything remotely like that. It’s just that I think I would rather like it if I knew there were people who hated me enough to wish me dead. Why, though? I’m reasonably confident that I am mentally sound… to a certain degree…. But it seems decidedly odd, doesn’t it? Why on Earth would I want to make enemies? Surely a more natural desire would be to have plenty of friends. Or at least amiable acquaintances.
I’ll tell you why I want to make enemies: It seems to me that when it is said of a person that he hasn’t an enemy in the world, it connotes a disgraceful lack of backbone. That guy without enemies went around pleasing everybody and standing up for nothing. Did he never denounce injustice or stand up to the tyrants? He did not. I know this because if he had they would have hated him for it. That is just how things work. If you have convictions, people will not like you. That is why Paul was beaten and starved and imprisoned. That is why Daniel was flung into a lions’ den. That is why Peter was brutally executed. And, most importantly of all, that is why they tortured and murdered Jesus Christ. These men had convictions, and they were not afraid to tell the world so. They stood for what they knew to be right, and people hated them for it. Do you think that when John the Baptist’s dripping head was brought into the room on a platter, people were dabbing their eyes and saying, “Who did this? He didn’t have a single enemy.” More likely they were shaking their heads and muttering, “I knew he’d get himself killed eventually.”
That’s who I want to be! I want to be bold and courageous and say the things that could get me killed. I want to speak up against evil. The thing about speaking against evil is that eventually the evil men will get wind of it, and they generally do not appreciate being defied. This sort of thing upsets them, and they are a dangerous group to cross. That is why people don’t like to do it. But do you know something? I think I would rather die knowing that I stood for Christ than live knowing I was a coward. I really hope I have the guts for this, but I guess I won’t know until I have the chance to spit in the face of wicked men.
Mind, these men—Peter, Daniel, Paul— didn’t make enemies on purpose. They didn’t simply set out to be as rude and condemning as they could to as many people as they could reach. The enemy thing just kind of happened on its own. A side effect, if you will, of bravery. One doesn’t try specifically to make enemies. You don’t slink around like a weasel and try to please everyone, but you don’t charge about like a rhinoceros trying to offend everyone, either. That’s just obnoxious and mean. Peter and Paul and Daniel had plenty of friends along with their hordes of enemies. As did Jesus.
The thing about people who have convictions is that some will hate them with a ferocious, consuming passion, but others will love them just as fervently. They have enemies, but they also have lots of friends. The men to whom I keep referring walked closely with God. Their hearts were close to His, so they shared many of the same desires and convictions. Aside from that, they also shared friends. The people who truly do love God love those who speak truth; conversely, those who hate Him will hate those who speak His message.
Another point to be careful about: sometimes there will be men who claim the name of God and have many enemies, but be warned! They are not always as they seem. The fact that a man has enemies doesn’t mean that he is a godly character; maybe people hate him because he is the obnoxious, offensive guy described above. Or perhaps the rest of the Christian community hates him because he takes the name of our Lord in vain by pretending to be one of His messengers. He may paint a false picture of all that we stand for. Remember how I said that the people who love God will love his messengers and those who hate Him will hate said messengers? It works the other way, too. If you love God, you will love what and who he loves. And you will hate what He hates. God does hate, you know. He does not love everybody, and so I shall not either.
So far I’m reasonably certain I haven’t made any dangerous enemies. But hey, give me a break. I’m only eighteen. But just to be safe, the dog is sleeping in my room tonight.