Let’s face it, the only way to guarantee one never makes an enemy is to never speak, never act, and never make a choice. In other words, it’s not going to happen. Winston Churchill once said “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime, in your life.”
There was a man who use to take great pleasure in insulting me. He seemed to go out of his way to do it and he had something of a reputation of being a bully. It use to really get to me until one day I confronted him and simply told him I was glad he didn’t like me because I don’t know what I’d think of myself if a man like him thought well of me. Well, let’s just say that didn’t endear him to me at all, but, to this day, I pray for that man by name before every liturgy. This has accomplished two invaluable works in my life: One, it always keeps before me the reality that I am not perfect and my faults need to be kept before my eyes, and Two: If I can pray, from my heart for someone who actually hates me, I just may be able to one day love that man like Christ loves him. I have a long way to go!
In our Gospel Lesson today, our Lord is surrounded by enemies; spiritual and physical. If we see how He dealt with the heat of hatred and the power of enemies, we will learn some valuable lessons.
Look at Mark 3:6-12:
At that time, the Pharisees held counsel with the Herodians against Jesus, how to destroy him. Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
First, the Lord dealt with those who hated Him by taking the oxygen away from the drama! He went with His disciples AWAY from His enemies and was surrounded by those who genuinely wanted His help and His ministry. He didn’t run away in fear, but He did understand that if He wanted the drama to cool down, the best way to do that is with active absence! In my own life, I can’t tell you how many times an active absence has cooled things down so that the drama, meant by the evil one to keep us unstable and fearful, dies down!
Second, the Lord didn’t waste time on those who simply wanted to give Him empty platitudes. Notice, He commanded the demons He cast out to quiet down even when they were telling the truth! Because the Lord knew they spoke, not from love or worship, but from fear and envy! They “praised” Him to cause Him trouble! There may even be pleasant voices in your life that are speaking nice words with selfish intent. That’s why the fathers often encourage us to avoid flattery so as to not tempt the darkness of arrogance and pride to spring up in our hearts.
Today, are you tired of the drama around you? Do false friends spend more time saying nice words about you rather than actually being a help to your life? Maybe it’s time to practice some active absence and peaceful silence to quiet the turmoil these enemies of peace create in your life. Perhaps it’s time to embrace the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in secret so that the true inner discipleship can occur in your heart. Perhaps it’s time to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Today’s the DAY! The Premier of the Demo Video for “A Journey to Fullness.“ Did you see it yet? All you have to do is go to JourneytoFullness.com and join the team that is making this project a reality. To be sure, we have a long way to go, but we can accomplish so much more together than we can apart! I’m excited!