Troy Harvey

Love Your Enemies

UncategorizedJared Kennedy2 Comments

For a recent Sunday Grade School lesson, we used an image that was drawn by Sojourn East member and artist, Troy Harvey. The image (left) is disturbing. It is a reflection on Matthew 5:38-48:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person... “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Think about the way young children fight. Often even young brothers and sisters are each other’s “enemies.” They kick and scream and growl and even bite one another over toys. Jesus words remind us that this is normal: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.’ You can see Troy's reflection on this across the top of the picture. This “mean face” is something that children see a lot in one another. But our meanness does not keep us from God’s love. The rays of sunshine around the face and the rain drops near the bottom of the drawing remind us that God sends both on the “evil and the good.” He loves us even when we are His “enemies.”

How we used the artwork. We used the artwork as a teaching illustration. We encouraged kids to interact with the picture and talk about how they see enemies in their lives. It hit home with them. They recognized how they view others as enemies. Then, we asked them to pray for their enemies. This was more difficult. Some kids flatly said, "No, I won't do that." The artwork made Jesus' words seem disturbing and hard to accept. That's not a bad thing, because it helped the kids in the class see a part of their own sinful hearts.

Why is this image disturbing? Interestingly enough, when preschool age children happened to see the artwork (we didn't use it as a teaching illustration for that age group), they described the image as a "mean" face. But adults and older kids described it as "scary" or "disturbing." Why? I wonder if it's disturbing because we tend to see nice/pretty/cute things at church or because we don't like to think of children as sinners or enemies of God apart from Christ? What do you think?