I’ve been reminded lately of the power of the unknown to cause fear. Not just things hiding in closets or under beds, but all those things that we don’t understand and can’t control.
The fearsome things under beds and in closets is where fear began for me.
My imagination has never been wanting in visualizing images of the bizarre. When I was little, I had to make sure the closet door in our room was closed before bed or I’d struggle with falling asleep.
I shared a room with my two sisters, and I was on the top bunk. If we were all in bed and I happened to see the closet door open, I’d beg one of my sisters to close it.
They didn’t have senseless fears, but once in bed, they refused to get up to accommodate my wishes.
There was no way I’d leave my bunk to shut the door. I’d situate myself in the exact middle of the bed, make sure I was covered so nothing evil or ghostly could grab me. I’d try to sleep, but it was often hours of dark thoughts that kept me awake and alert.
Logic would say any creature of that sort would have grabbed my sisters first, but I wasn’t a logical child.
I knew these creatures were enemies, things I needed to protect myself against.
We speak freely of enemies today. Those we fear may do us harm or compromise who we are. Those whose ideas may threaten our way of life or thinking.
Enemies don’t have to carry weapons or have evil intent for our lives. Those people do exist, but most of us don’t deal with them daily.
We may be overusing the term.
Or misusing it.
If enemies are those hostile to us, who want to hurt and undermine us, most people we deal with on a daily basis couldn’t be classified as such. Rather, they’re people different from us, with varying viewpoints that may not agree with our own. it doesn’t make them an enemy. It makes them their own person.
It’s too easy today to villainize others, making adversaries of those we don’t agree with. But dismissing people without listening or having the conversation limits our understanding of the bigger picture of life around us.
Jesus set the example for how we should treat others who don’t agree with us. He had real enemies, those who sought to kill Him.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’” But I say, Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44
His statement could be considered countercultural today. To choose to love and value those who blatantly disagree with us seems illogical.
But it’s the greatest expression of our character and humanity.
Loving freely, even those we consider unloveable, can’t be done on our own. Jesus’ love in and through us can change how we respond to others.
Such love changes the landscape of ideas. Jesus allows us to love with His power, an overflow of His love in us.
Do we choose Jesus and His strength in and through us?
Maybe the better question is how willing are you to let His light into your dark closet?