love your enemies

Erich Honecker was the communist leader of East Berlin when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. In a united and democratic Germany, Erich was out of a job, and he and his wife were turned out of their house. They were alone, ostracized, homeless, unemployed, hated and despised by society, with nowhere to go. “Serves them right,” you may think, “who cares what happens to them, those dirty dogs! Throw ‘em under the bus!”

Enter Pastor Uwe Holmer, of Germany. He and his wife and children opened their home to the Honecker’s for 2 months while the Honecker’s pulled themselves together and arranged to leave the country. It was an even more striking act, however, as Pastor Holmer and his children had been targeted by the Honecker’s under communist rule and denied college scholarships and education because they were Christian. How strange it must have been for the Holmer family to open their home to the Honecker’s! How strange it must have been for the Honecker’s to be shown kindness and hospitality from the people they had persecuted! I would like to have been a “fly on the wall” during dinner table conversations…

In four short statements of Luke 6:27-28, Jesus commands His followers on how they are to act towards enemies: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” I confess I do not naturally feel love towards my enemy in my own strength, of my own spirit. I don’t know that I could have done what Pastor Holmer did. This is a supernatural love that only can be done by God’s grace and love towards me first, while I was yet His enemy. He showed His love for me through His death on the cross. I pray that God would give me love and strength and a forgiving frame of mind and heart if I face a situation like this. I pray that all Christ’s followers would have this attitude, through His work and Spirit. Could you act like Pastor Holmer?