Read Psalm 63:6-10
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals. (NIV)
It is not controversial to identify love at the centre of the Christian faith. We all know God loves us and that we are to love God and others. But as anyone who has tried to love knows, it doesn’t come easily to egocentric human beings.
So it is no surprise that we read of great ones of the faith being somewhat less than loving on occasions. Our Psalm today shows the psalmist both taking pleasure from meditating on God and also hoping that his enemies will be treated harshly by God.
A famous medieval saint was Bernard of Clairvaux. He was known for his writings on divine love. He was also known for his urging his brethren to go off and kill infidels in the second crusade to the Holy Land.
And we can’t forget Martin Luther, the one who reminded us of the wonderful grace of God, supporting the massacre of peasants who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Luther’s state supporters.
These and many other instances remind us that none of our love is entirely pure. There is often the shadow of self-interest, anger, desire for revenge mixed in with our love. We tend to find it hard to obey Jesus’ command to love our enemies.
History is littered with examples of hypocritical love. But we must not merely point the finger at these people, or shake our heads at the double standards of centuries past. The shadow of human sin will always fall over our genuine yet imperfect attempts to love.