Monday, February 21, 2011

Frenemies

Imagine two Universities. Both of these schools fancy themselves the best university in their respective states. These universities both see themselves as a beacon of academic enlightenment in an otherwise desolate area. Both of the schools tend to perform very well in athletics across many different sports.  
Given these descriptions, one would think these schools to be kindred spirits, right? They have a lot in common. However, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma are not sister Universities. They have an adversarial relationship, which includes a brutal October football game every year in Dallas. Some people have said that the reason for the rivalry is that both schools compete for quality Texas high school football players. 
It seems to me it is fairly common for bitter enemies to be similar. This similarity may cause enemies to see ourselves as competing for scarce resources, creating friction and discontent. 
When Jesus talked about loving our enemies in Matthew 5:43-48, I do not think he was suggesting it so in order to “heap burning coals on their heads (Proverbs 25).” It seems to me that his reasons are two fold. First, we must be compassionate because of the brokenness which usually exists in those who would wish to do us harm (see last week’s post called “Broken Inside”). Second, being kind to them might help us to realize how much similarity might exist between enemies. 
Evidence for the second point is in Matthew 5:46-47, when Jesus compares them to tax collectors and pagans. Jesus is suggesting that all three groups (his followers, tax collectors, and pagans) had in common that they love those who are within their groups.  Even though his listeners likely demonized these other two groups, thinking about them feeling love and having families has a way of bringing out similarity.
In light of this teaching, I think we need to take a closer look at our “enemies.” We need to ask ourselves, “how could this person have been my friend in a different circumstance?” If OU was in Ottawa, would it still be a rival to Texas, and vice versa? In doing this we can take the first step towards reconciliation. 
P.S. Hook ‘em Horns.

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