In his book “Who Wrote the New Testament” Burton Mack suggests that there existed in the community of the early followers of Jesus rules of behavior for living in the Kingdom of God. The first on his list is “Love your enemies.” And according to Lloyd Geering in an article in The Fourth R, a Westar publication, July/August 2004, “The injunction to ‘Love one’s enemies” is not only unique to the teaching of Jesus but is so revolutionary that some reject it as absurd.”
I would suggest that this teaching of Jesus is the culmination of an evolution that has been taking place even before humankind evolved. We have tended to talk in terms of different kinds of love or different manifestations of love. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French, Jesuit, paleontologist priest stated that love is a cosmic force, not limited to human beings but finds its highest expression through them. He called love the most universal, most tremendous and most mysterious of all forces. He said it was present at the big bang as a psychic energy and was the very lifeblood of evolution
Early molecular forces experienced an affinity that caused particles to adhere to each other in order to survive. Teilhard spoke of “the severed particle that trembles at the approach of the rest.” We can still see that kind of affinity in very simple life forms. There is a kind of Forest Mold that exists as single cell amoeba. When it exhausts its food supply in a given area it sends out signals to other nearby cells and thousands of those cells begin to collect together until they reach a crucial mass and then they organize themselves into an entity that can move across the forest floor until a better feeding area is reached. They then separate into single cells again.
In humans, perhaps the earliest form of love human beings experienced was also based on dependency for survival. Each member of a tribal family depended on the entire collective to survive. (It is interesting to note that human beings equate their understanding of God with how they perceive love.)
As we continued to evolve, develop and grow, individuals saw love as something to be earned, to be worthy of. A critical point was reached when we arrived at “Eros” love. We tend to think that this kind of love has always been around but this is not so. It is a powerful force - exciting, mysterious, all encompassing…sometimes even violent in its manifestation. Erotic love has been the source of great joy and great pain. All of the frustrations of under-developed or unfulfilled earlier forms of love were brought into this phase of our evolution.
The basic root of the need for propagation of the species – manifested as sexual desire was confronted with a higher force – a higher principle trying to emerge. That principle, Teilhard contended, is the synthesis of two principles, male and female that exist in every human being. This synthesis of male and female within individuals is the creative force that is much more important than just reproduction. Teilhard was firm in his belief that from the time human beings became self-reflective – thinking individuals, they became important to and participative in their own evolution.
I believe that we have reached a turning point in our spiritual evolution and that the time has come for us to prepare to move to another level of understanding of the word love. Life conditions on the planet we live on are pushing us, urging us to recognize what it means to love all humanity, including those we have had a tendency to think of as our enemies. At the same time there is a cosmic force – a universal force that is pulling us onward and upward. These two forces have brought us to a junction – a place where we are being called, even summoned to go beyond where we are now.
There is conflict on our planet. It may be the only way it can be brought to resolution is by moving to the next level of love. Is the Jesus’ teaching, “Love your enemies” truly possible? Can we, as individuals, truly love those who misuse or abuse us? Or misuse or abuse those we love.
Lloyd Geering, in the article cited above tells of a Christian pacifist in New Zealand, pleading his case for not wishing to participate in military action, who explained that as a Christian he was bound to love his enemies. He was scorned by the magistrate, who said it was absurd that anyone could love Nazi Germans. (Today it might be Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, or members of ISIS.)
Spiral Dynamics speaks of different levels of consciousness. We must come to understand that we don’t really have many different forms of love but different stages or levels we must go through. As humans we often find it hard to let go of previous levels of consciousness as well as levels of love. We find ourselves holding on to the way we think love should be whether it is comfortable or not.
I am convinced that the teaching of Jesus, loving your enemies, is not only possible it is necessary in order for us to move to a new level in our evolution. And I am also convinced that those of us who understand this must lead the way, as was suggested by both Teilhard and Charles Fillmore, one of the founders of Unity Movement.
According to Teilhard, and I quote: “Theoretically the transformation of love is quite possible. The day will come, when after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love – and on that day for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire”.
We can learn to harness the energies of love. It involves recognizing that we are all one, even those who we now see as enemies.