Expectant Prayers ®

Jennifer Jo Weiss

Enemies and Toxic Relationships- Part 1

After watching a police mystery being solved on TV, I was intrigued with the typical phrase that was used to describe the victim; “He had no known enemies.”

Known or unknown, I believe that everyone has enemies!   Let’s discuss this.   I’ll start with the big, wide view and then try to bring it down to where we live as individuals…

First let’s define the terms -

ENEMY:   opposition of a conflicting force, tendency, or principle, actively expressed opposition or hostility

HOSTILITY:  deep-seated usually mutual ill will; opposition, or resistance in thought or principle

QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:   Is it fair to make the assumption that the opposite of "enemy" is "friend"?   What defines a friend to you?  It is common that most people find the term "friend" as a general term - not necessarily insinuating that he/she is close to them or has intimate knowledge of their life?  It it possible or right to call someone a friend that you can't stand or totally dislike? Can someone be an enemy and a friend at the same time?

THE BIG PICTURE:  Many people may think that they do not have enemies and especially wouldn't like to admit it if they did.  Why is it so hard for people to acknowledge that they have enemies?  Probably because we feel that it reflects poorly on us or our character.  It's a humbling thought to realize that not everybody likes you or has your best interest in mind.   "Enemy" is such a strong word to most people, but if a spade is a spade... we should call it a spade!

Most would agree that our country has enemies.    Many of us are hated simply because we are American.   Few people would desire to be parachuted into a hostile region of the world where they despise Americans!  It would be life threatening.  So, it is fair to say that if you are American – you are hated by someone who wishes you were dead.  Should that be taken personally?  Absolutely!   Does it bother you then, that we call other countries "friends "who are hostile toward us or what we stand for?  It should!

Taking this to a personal level – are there people in your sphere of existence that do not like you?   Absolutely!   Whether you acknowledge this or not, it is more than likely to be true.  This may be varying degrees on the relationship scope from people you barely know (or perhaps don’t know at all) to those who know you all too well.  The variance of dislike can also come because of certain prejudices:  you’re too outgoing, you’re too quiet, you’re too skinny, you’re too fat, you’re too popular, you’re not popular enough, you’re a successful business person, you own your own business… etc. etc.   Jealousy, envy, rage, and wanting your own way are common adversaries to friendship.   Do you have true friends who display these type of characteristics?  Probably not.  If so, with friends like those... who needs enemies!?

As Christians, we see a lot of hatred increasing for us in society.  We have strong opposition because we adhere to the Bible as the divine, authoritative code of conduct for life.  When topics arise such as homosexuality, abortion,  gay marriage, etc. and decide to stand firm to the faith we profess, we become a whipping post for those who are strongly opposed to our views.   Of course, we may acknowledge that there are certain people who are not our friends - but does this make them enemies?    Are there certain characteristics that are enemies of your soul- that would cause you more harm than good to make a companion of?

Again - who or what defines a "friend" or "enemy" to you?

Are there people we do or do not prefer?  Absolutely!  I would say that as far as close friendships and those who are in our “inner circle” – not everyone makes the short list.   Even Jesus chose a group of 12 men to disciple and Peter and John were the closest of the 12.  There will be people in our lives that we don’t prefer over others – and that’s okay.  All of us should guard our lives and friendships closely.    That’s wisdom!  

Have you ever had a friend and for some reason or other they aren't your friend any more?  Does that now make them your enemy?  Why or why not?    What if some of the reasons they are not your friend is because of something "toxic" in the relationship?  Think again to the example of Jesus and the disciples.  Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus...was he a friend or enemy?

There might be valid reasons why we don’t like each other!    Let me go further and say – God created us with our likes and dislikes.   He knits us together with certain people.  This, however, is not license to exclude others when operating within the body of Christ.    Cliques, exclusiveness, introspection, and unfriendliness are some of the biggest complaints on the list of church faults!  Of course, we probably don’t talk to every single person at church every week during services.  We must be careful that our attitude is openness and not closed to those around us - especially in the Spirit.

As Christians, we get caught in the dichotomy of being loving and peaceful and in turn dismiss a lot of the other characteristics of God, such as His righteousness, justice, and holiness.      What makes us a friend of God?

More on this topic tomorrow.....

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