Q&R with Brad – “Does God have enemies?”
Does God have enemies?
What a fascinating question, and one I have thought about both theologically and personally.
To answer it biblically, I am drawn to two important texts:
Matthew 55:44 – “Love your enemies.”
Romans 5:10 – “For while we were enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…”
What both these verses show us is that enmity—the disposition of being an enemy, in opposition, or hostile toward—can be one-sided.
While God’s enemies (or ours) are those who have chosen to hate, mistreat, or even kill God’s Son (or God’s children), God refuses to be their enemy and calls us to follow his example. So while someone may take the role of enemy toward God or toward us—to be a hostile opponent who seeks to do harm—God responds with self-giving, radically forgiving love. This looks like the Cross and it’s this cross—”to love, pray for, and bless your enemies”—that he calls us to take up ourselves.
This is perhaps how we harmonize Jesus’ words, “Do not resist evil” (Matthew 5:39) with Paul’s exhortation, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It’s not that we do nothing in the face of evil. Rather, what Christ rejects is vengeance. Evil is overcome by love and forgiveness, even if that means martyrdom (as it has for so many). But doesn’t that mean evil wins? Not if Easter morning has something to say about it. Evil does not win, death does not win—because they cannot get the final word. Love wins, Life wins, Light wins. Three beautiful names for Christ and for Christ-in-us.
So while others may purpose to be enemies of God, God does not return their animosity. God is the enemy of no one. God is the Redeemer, Saviour, and Deliverer of all. As Kenneth Tanner likes to say, with the self-offering of Jesus, not one more human needs to die for our world to be made right.
That said, is there any non-human enemy that Christ has determined to direct his hostility—to what enemy has the Lord become an enemy?
1 Corinthians 15:26 — “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” And that enemy is put to death by Life himself.