The book – ‘Miracle on the River Kwai’ is the story of prisoners of war who suffered at the hands of the Japanese while building the Burma railway.
These were terrible times: a time of great cruelty, heavy work, lack of food and any kind of creature comfort, disease, illness and death.
But the book is optimistic. It tells of a miracle of resurgence, of men trying to overcome their difficulties and learning again to smile, laugh, and help one another.
One of the best stories in the book comes near the end. The war is almost over. The work on the railway is finished. The British soldiers were put on a train and moved south.
At one point in their journey, they were shunted into a siding and there found themselves next to a train carrying wounded Japanese troops who were being sent to Bangkok.
The Japanese were in a shocking state – filthy, muddy, and bloody with nasty wounds. And, of course, THEY WERE THE ENEMY.
But, without a word, the British soldiers unbuckled their packs, took out part of their rations and a rag or two, and went over to the Japanese to help them. They knelt by them and gave them food and water, and then cleaned and bound up their wounds.
Grateful cries of ‘Aragatto!’ which means ‘Thank You!’ followed as they left.
Jesus said ‘Love your enemies’. That’s not easy to do, but it is hat these soldiers did.
They saw the Japanese as people in need and were concerned for their wholeness.
Jesus hated all that was wrong in the world: hatred, injustice, and cruelty. He denounced those terrible things, as we must too.
But he did not condemn the sinner; he forgave him.
He saw that there was a difference between the person and what he stood for. So, he did not denounce the person himself, but only what he had done.
That is why he says ‘Love your enemies’ – think of them as people: people with needs, people with fears, people with problems. Befriend them, be concerned for them, and help them whenever you can
When Jesus says that we should love our enemies, he is saying that, no matter what that person does to us, even if he insults, ill-treats and injures us, we should still seek his highest good.
The heart is usually associated with love. But this love Jesus is speaking about here is not of the heart; rather it is something of the will.
It is something which by the grace of Christ we will ourselves to do.
Perhaps that’s what makes it so difficult.
But if we can love our enemy, then we are loving as God loves. God sends his rain on the just and the unjust alike. God is kind to the person who brings him joy and equally to the person who grieves his heart.
God’s love embraces saint and sinner alike.
It is a love we should endeavour to copy – and, if we do, seeking nothing but our enemy’s highest good, we will in truth be the children of God