In light of the cross and everything Jesus would have to endure at the hands of Pontius Pilate and the Jews, this is a profound statement! Jesus “loved His enemies” to the point that He would lay down His life for them while praying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” That is…mind-blowing! This flies in the face of religion and our modern “progressive” Christianity/ cancel culture.
Last Friday morning, I awoke early (like before the crack of dawn early!) and meditated on a well-known, often-quoted-out-of-context passage of Scripture. I’ve read these verses countless times and it hits me anew even now.
27. “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28. bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
LUKE 6:27-28 (ESV)
He Who Has Ears to Hear…
Jesus’s first words were for those “who hear” which tells me that there were some—perhaps many—sitting in the crowd who wouldn’t be able to hear His message (including more than just the Pharisees and Sadducees). In light of our modern era, Jesus’s words pierce just as deep.
…pray for those who abuse you.
When I read those words last week, they gave me pause. (Imagine that, getting triggered by Scripture!) An intrusive memory flashed through my mind like a movie. A familiar scene that tried to form into a flashback (if I hadn’t been so focused on writing notes while I was reading, it definitely would have!): my college abuser—who had groomed me so well he didn’t have to use force—kissing me, his hands in places they shouldn’t have been. For 6 months, various incidents happened. Most times, I didn’t fight him. I didn’t know I should have.
As an abuse survivor with PTSD, I know there have been a myriad of times when I didn’t want to obey that part of Scripture—especially when the PTSD symptoms spiked. Hours, days, lost because of dissociation caused by night terrors and intrusive memories, nocturnal panic attacks, and flashbacks that made me lose sense of reality. With PTSD comes flashbacks, where my brain goes back to and believes it’s 2014 even though the calendar says otherwise. For example, I’ll think I have a class I’m late for or homework I forgot about when, in reality, I don’t; I haven’t since I graduated. And in almost every single one of these flashbacks, I see… him. He’s still 29; I’m still 22.
Jesus’s words are hard to hear, harder still to obey, especially when coming out of a flashback or panic attack. It takes a while for my body and brain to catch up. And in response to the trauma, sometimes too often for my liking, I would harm myself; it was easier than trying to forgive him when I knew I didn’t mean it. When you start abusing yourself in response to someone else abusing you, things get complicated fast. My prayers, especially the first few years after graduation, were more along the lines of “God, please kill him!” or “God, please come get me, come save me from this hellish nightmare!” while I was in the midst of self-harm and would soon after have to pray for repentance.
Biblical Math vs Trauma Reality
As a student of the Word, I know what Scripture says about forgiveness and loving your enemies. Jesus has a math formula for that: “70 x 7” right? But then… the pain of trauma worsened and I started questioning YHWH.