This entry is from Ryan, a friend of mine in Denver. He’s a guy driven by posturing himself in humble serving and sacrificial ways. His words are powerful.
My identity as the enemy…
Justin’s mind was just blown. In his short time of hanging around the chronically homeless that we serve at Network he’d been prayed over and blessed on two separate occasions by a man named Ed. Ed is poor in every which way imaginable and he’s not afraid to let his poverty show. So, imagine the look on Justin’s face when after a short interaction Ed asked to pray for him. Through Ed’s meaningful petition and pleas Justin was overwhelmed with a mystical sense of genuine blessing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this.
Last fall, Jamie was holding the Anything Helps sign in an exercise of solidarity with panhandlers. A homeless man gently stopped to pray with Jamie and offer her the $2 he had to his name. Jamie was left stunned in a paradigm shattering shock and disorientation.
With the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was speaking to an audience of desperate and hopeless folks. The poor in spirit, those who are mourning, those who were meek, merciful despite their hardships, those who sought peace rather than war, it was these humble and hurting who received the challenge to bless those who persecute and oppress them.
Myself, Justin, and Jamie… you the reader, didn’t fit the description of those in attendance. We’re middle class, college educated and resemble the authorities and powers far more than the hungry and tired ones standing in position to receive the beautifully poetic charge Jesus issued.
I have spent most of my existence living the assumption that we were the ones receiving those blessings and charged with the challenge to love our enemies. And while I am poor and powerless in my own unique ways I am realizing even more profoundly that I am that enemy of whom the other has been challenged to love despite my inconsiderations and affluence that perpetuates the bleak circumstances of the poor.