How do you love the unlovable, the toxic, the mean person?
Her eyes bulge, she leans in and screams in my face. I try to calm her down, but she can’t hear through her rage. My humanness wants to yell back. The Holy Spirit whispers a different message, “love her and pray for her.”
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
So many people confuse this verse with instruction to be a part of someone’s life that has treated you poorly. Often Christians think this means to stay put and not create distance.
When I read these verses, I don’t see anything about proximity. There is nothing in these words that require me to stay connected physically or emotionally to another person. Is it possible to have healthy boundaries and love from a distance? Of course!
The Word of God is clear that we are to love and pray and by our choice, we can step away to a safe distance and still cover another person in love and prayer.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
By setting healthy boundaries physically, emotionally, financially and mentally, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and in the other person. We can pray for them more freely without a personal agenda or the need to control the outcome. We can trust God to do the work necessary. We are not be distracted by the emotional or physical ties we have to that person.
Battles that are fought from a distance are a powerful way for us to experience the supernatural answer to prayer without taking any credit for the result. Step away. Create space. Pray from a distance for those who need to be face-to-face with Jesus. Give God the room to move.