Who are your enemies?
When we think about Jesus saying that we should pray for our enemies, maybe we think of people we don’t get along with at work…or terrorists. Or maybe when we’re super spiritual, we realize that we are our own worst enemies, which leads to a huge existential crisis when we try to pour hot coals on our own heads.
You don’t even know who they are. They might be just like the people pictured here. They might be perfectly respectable people who you would love if you knew them. But right now, they’re out there, trying to take what’s yours. In fact, you have more enemies than ever before in your life.
Who are these supposedly respectable people trying to steal from you? About one in every ten people.
Are you praying for them? I certainly haven’t been.
Enemy Number One
I had some big news a couple of days ago. I finally got the new teaching job that I had been gunning for over the last month. That news follows two years of struggle, defeat, impatience and fist shaking. So it’s a bit of a weight off my shoulders. It’s not a perfect job, but it’s a huge step. We can pay off some big student loans now.
I knew I was in a tight race with other candidates. And because it’s a Christian school, I knew that the other candidates were likely to be wonderful people. Those other people have hopes, dreams, families, problems that they need to provide for. I knew they needed this job. Some of them were probably desperate for this job.
Of course, none of this mattered to me one bit.
I prepared for job interviews with one goal in mind: to walk into an office, guns blazing, to annihilate any chance those other poor suckers would have of getting that job instead of me. Those other candidates became Enemy Number One to me.
How would I describe myself to an employer? Three words: hard-working…alpha male…jackhammer…merciless…insatiable. I am ready to face any challenges that are foolish enough to face me.
Your Pain, My Gain
It wasn’t until right after I got the phone call I had been waiting for that I thought again of those other people. Because I had received good news, several other families had been disappointed. Someone else would feel the sting of defeat, the pain of looking for “plan B,” the despair of thinking, “Why not me?” I know those feelings well.
Of course, now I can pray for those people. But not once during the last two years have I prepared for a job interview by praying that someone else get the job I want. “Dear Jesus, I pray that I’ll be humiliated in this job interview so some more deserving person can have this job.” Not once have I prayed for my enemies in the workforce. I’ve prayed more like David in the Psalms that God would make all my enemies fall on their swords or be dashed on rocks or something.
9.1% of You Are My Enemies
Though I have empathy with my fellow unemployed and underemployed Americans, I couldn’t make me go soft on them in the gladiators’ arena. We live in tough economic times. Officially, 9.1% of Americans (probably more like 15%) are essentially your economic enemies. If you have a job, it is partly because 9.1% of able-bodied adults do not. It’s like eating a hamburger. An animal must sacrifice so that I may eat. If you are a vegetarian, then the little critters that get caught in the farmer’s combine die so that you can eat your “guilt-free” veggie burger.
We often imagine that our enemies are far away, or that they’ll have masks on and identify themselves as your enemies. But that’s usually not true. An economy that keeps people unemployed longer than the Great Depression reduces people to their most basic natural survival instincts. Eat or be eaten, just like animals. It’s pure Darwinism at work.
I really hate that.
And either by stupidity or by design (probably both), nothing the gov’ment has done has helped solve unemployment. Congress’ manual stimulation of the economy was an exercise in, well, manual stimulation. Meanwhile, unemployment robs men and women of the dignity of taking home a check. It denies them a sense of purpose and value. What’s worse? Being enslaved to a job you hate, or being enslaved by unemployment? I think I know.
Tell us, how has the recession affected you? Do you think things are improving (or have they at least improved for you?) Are you looking for work? How can we prevent ourselves from letting desperation set in and becoming animals as unemployment drags on?