Chick-Fil-A's Lesson on Loving Your Enemies
The current cultural milieu seems to have hoodwinked us to believe the false premise that we must both agree with and bless our enemies' choices in order to love them. Christianity does not give us permission to dishonor or disregard those whom we perceive as enemies. It does not require us to come in lockstep with their perspectives as a prerequisite to sharing the love of Christ. Cathy seemed to get this.
Cathy "had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them," said Windmeyer. "He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did as well."
Though most of us won't have to navigate forays into enemy territory in such a public fashion, we still have many of the same obstacles to overcome. Windmeyer alluded to perhaps the greatest barrier when he wrote, "I have spent quite some time being angry at and deeply distrustful of Dan Cathy... He is the enemy, right?"
It's easy for us to label our enemies, to set them apart from ourselves so we can oppose or avoid them. We fear that if we become quiet long enough to listen, we might actually be permanently silenced and lose representation in culture and politics. We foresee our core ideologies being wrenched from our hands, and that terrifies us. After all, our identities are so closely linked to our beliefs that we fear we losing ourselves if the enemy has a valid point. Additionally, many of us carry the unrealistic expectation that if we fail to immediately convert our enemies to Jesus, we are somehow bad Christians. Our fear and shame then become additional barriers to reaching out in love.
When we can grasp the reality that others are worthy of our love simply because they are made in God's image—not because they agree with us— bridging ideological divides becomes possible. How might our lives look if instead of cutting off relationships, we chose to say, "I don't share your conviction on that topic, but I would like to hear more about why this is so important to you." If nothing else, listening well dials down defensiveness and allows for empathy, which moves us in the direction of love.