If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
There is a famous story from the First World War in which British and German soldiers left their trenches on Christmas Day 1914 and exchanged handshakes, Christmas greetings and presents, and even took part in games of soccer. Wikipedia records that this so-called ‘Christmas Truce’ took place in several locations across the Western Front, although fighting did continue elsewhere.
There must have been spirit-filled followers of Jesus in both armies. One could speculate that an awareness of the teaching of this passage of Scripture, which is repeated by Paul in the New Testament, may have prompted the Christmas Truce on the battlefields of Northern France. But perhaps it took place because warfare at that time retained an element of chivalry, that was subsequently lost as the war described as ‘the war to end all wars’ dragged on all the way to 1918 resulting in at least ten million deaths. Whatever the reason, the teaching of Scripture is clear: We are to love our enemies, even if it is not reciprocated. Although that may seem difficult, even impossible in a war footing, we cannot argue with the words of Jesus who said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV)
If you are serving in the military then it is important to follow orders, but that does not remove the possibility of loving the enemy and proving that love through prayer. It is not an option, it is a requirement. The same requirement exists for all of us in the daily relationships we encounter as part of life. At school, at college, at work, in church, and in our neighborhoods, we are to be known as people who love others, whatever the cost. That’s what Jesus did, all the way to the cross.