“Keep your friends close…but your enemies closer.”
Isn’t that what Michael Corleone tells Frankie in the 1974 crime drama, The Godfather, Part II?
Wasn’t that his advice on how to deal with enemies?
How to take them out?
And yet this mantra lives on. It lives beyond the mafia don’s plot for revenge. Beyond Frankie’s betrayal and eventual demise. Even beyond the film’s eleven Academy Awards nominations and ongoing rank among the greatest movies of all time. This mob boss’s advice has sunk down deep into the hearts of humanity.
Because it pivots on our most basic need.
For security. For safety. For protection.
And it does so by telling us power lies in our hands, in our own minds if we want to distinguish friend from foe. If we wish to identify chinks in our enemy’s armor. If we ever hope to eliminate our potential threats.
It’s up to us to protect ourselves. There’s no one else.
So we better stand guard.
Good thing our Father doesn’t think this way. Good thing He has an entirely different plan for keeping our enemies close, a plan that doesn’t have to be riddled with the anxiety that self-protection brings.
Consider what the psalmist tells us in Psalm 23:5 (NIV),
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
In God’s kingdom, you see, God prepares. Not us. He anoints. He does the work of the hospitable host.
And as our host, His foremost responsibility is the safekeeping and welfare of you and me, His esteemed and honored guests.
All we have to do is come.
To receive, ingest, devour the spiritual feast set on platters before us. To accept, swallow, even drown our thirst in His cup that “overflows.” All this we can do without fear, even in the presence of our enemies, because our enemies are not God’s enemies.
Whether you know it or not, whether Michael and Frankie knew it or not, those you consider to be your enemies are hungry too. They are thirsty, just as you are. They are famished, ravenous even, for authentic spiritual sustenance that only the Father provides.
Therefore, God “prepares a table” in such lavish display, in such overabundance because He has one singular purpose in mind.
He wants to entice you and your enemies to eat.
To both be filled with God’s love, His goodness. To both be satisfied with His mercy, His grace. Because maybe, just maybe, if you both sat down and ate a spiritual meal together with Abba Father and Jesus His Son, you might just be enemies no longer.
But you have to come.
To open your eyes to what God is doing. To feel the oil run down your face and with it the responsibility that God’s anointing on you brings.
It’s your job now to start the conversation, to pass the fork, to share the plate.
You’ve been designed to do more than consume.
You must “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great…” (Luke 6:35).
Your reward will be great.
And your enemies’ reward too.
In what ways is God calling you to see your enemies differently today? How might He want to use you in their lives for His glory? Could He also be using them in your life to refine or redirect you toward Christ? Why or why not?