Forgiveness Why Is Serving Our Enemies So Difficult?

By Michelle Williams


I admit it, I had to Google “who are the bullet crown people” after the Between Sundays podcast episode this week when Tyler identified the group as the people he felt he would have a difficult time serving. And, yeah. That’s a tough one. But why? Why is it so darn difficult to wrap a brain around the idea of serving someone you just really don’t like for reasons that seem incredibly legit?
I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit on this question so many times. Dave Rod once posed the question regarding loving our enemies in a sermon, “How would we love Adolf Hitler?” Can’t even count the hours I’ve chewed on that one.

But this week’s pod conversation sparked some new connections for me. First, I think I can clarify that the underlying motivation for serving anyone is to try to help them move closer to God. It may not always work out that way (i.e. Judas). But overall, an act of service will always provide an opportunity for spiritual growth in someone (even if it ends up being yourself). 

The second connection I made ties in with an article I wrote about the meal plan of the Holy Spirit for the recent Christmas sermon series. In that article, I talk about the spiritual meal of faith, hope and love—and how during the Last Supper, Jesus served love. His disciples had already been filled with faith and hope, so they were (somewhat) prepared for the love—or at least open to it. The service act of washing their feet was like an advanced lesson in love. Definitely not your typical “Intro to Service 101” course. I think this idea may help to account for the feeling of disconnect when it comes to the idea of washing the feet of our enemies. Theoretically, our enemies likely aren’t filled with faith and hope. (Because if they are filled with the godly variety of faith or hope, you may need to reevaluate why they’re in your enemy category!) Therefore, an “introductory” service act geared toward increasing faith or building hope may be more appropriate for these types before diving into the Advanced Placement course on godly love.

And another connection—a bold step for me to point out here—is exorcism as an act of service. The gospels record many examples of Jesus helping otherwise good people by driving out their demons. He even grants his disciples the power and authority to drive out demons. It’s clearly an important aspect of Jesus’ time on earth, even if many people today would consider it a little woo woo. Perhaps this is the means of Christian service that is most appropriate for the Hitler types—or even maybe a group of folks who once were compelled enough to begin a Christian evangelical church and seem to have majorly lost it along the way… Just sayin’. They might be battling some demons, and maybe that’s the way someone could actually help.

My final thought is this: Folks like the bullet crown crew, Hitler types and other enemies are indeed lost by our standards. But if they come home and God wants to rejoice upon their return, do you go in to the party or do you walk away angry?

Hear More

Listen to the conversation happening about loving through service on our podcast, Between Sundays.

Go Wash Feet

Maybe you're wondering where to start when it comes to serving others? Think of those who have less money, essential needs, authority, education, power, privilege. Start there. It could mean helping your neighbor or the person on social media who irks you the most. It could mean finding a homeless person on the street and discovering their needs. It could mean walking with the co-working that drives you absolutely crazy. Whatever it is, just go do it. God will guide you, we promise. We can't wait to see how God will use you!


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