This past weekend, San Francisco and Oakland braced for protesters to descend on the Bay. Lots of people readied counter-protests to resist the hate, violence, white supremacy, AltRight and NeoNazi agenda that many recent protests — most notably in Charlottesville — have brought to light.
I was scheduled to work at an urgent care clinic close to Crissy Field, where the protests were to begin on Saturday. As I was leaving for work, I told my housemate, who was planning to attend the demonstration, “If the rally turns violent and any counter-protesters get hurt, send them to me and I’ll treat them for free.” It was the best way I could think of to support the effort to oppose hate, racism and white supremacy.
But as soon as those words had left my lips — “If the rally turns violent and any counter-protesters get hurt, send them to me and I’ll treat them for free” — I was instantly convicted.
I took a deep breath, lowered my head and said, “What I should have said was that if any AltRight protesters get hurt, send them to me and I’ll treat them for free.”
Temptation to use a larger-than-necessary needle aside, I realized what an opportunity it would be to care for a misguided, angry, hate-filled man in pain by showing him gentle, undeserved, radical, compassionate care.
In the end, the protests in San Francisco were officially cancelled (though there were still some clashes in San Francisco on Saturday and in the East Bay on Sunday.)
But the experience made me think deeply about the call Jesus gave us to love our enemies.
When I woke up this morning, I spent some time thinking about how uncomfortable it feels to show that kind of love, how much it costs us make space in our lives to interact with people we don’t like, how much we have to sacrifice to love and bless and pray for our enemies.
But it’s that glowing kindness that illuminates dark hearts. It’s that unconditional compassion that makes people change their ways. It’s that kind of radical love that makes the defenses of anger and hate and self-rightneousness begin to crumble.
It’s precisely these illuminating, unconditional, undeserved, loving gestures that change peoples hearts – thereby changing our beautiful but desperately broken world.
And so, my friends whose hearts are broken by the dark world you see today, whose loving compasses know we’re on a dangerous downward descent, whose hands are aching to all the good they can…
Let’s together take a deep breath, bow our heads, and pray to encounter our enemies today.
Let’s pray for opportunities to show love in unique and undeserved and uncomprehensible ways.
Let’s give everything we can to bless and serve and care for our enemies.
Let’s give everything we have to love them into the Light.