Lord, You Want Me to Do What?
I woke up in the middle of the night saying, “Lord, you want me to do what?” As I lay there trying to understand what was happening and gather my thoughts, the Holy Spirit once again said, “Bless those who persecute you.” This was the second time I heard those words. It was 2:30 am, and the last thing I wanted to hear was something about blessing those who persecute me or anybody else. Let’s face it, of all the things we are challenged to do in scripture, one of the hardest is to bless those who are filled with hate, scorn, and evil. We are talking about people who are abusive with their words and actions.
We saw what happened in Charlottesville and it was painful, ugly and disgusting. It isn’t a natural instinct to bless those who are persecuting you or others. Our natural response when we are attacked is to fight back with every fiber of our being, yet Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
This is the opposite of the way the world tells us to act. Why? The enemy has been stirring up trouble for thousands of years. The enemy is on a hell-bent mission to destroy society as we know it. In John 10:10 the scripture tells us, “The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.”
So, Jesus asks us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How does this even sound fair? After all, why should we pray for those who are out to destroy us any way they can? How am I supposed to love and pray for people who hide behind white robes and masks and who believe because of the color of their skin they are superior to others? How do I love and pray for those who constantly stir up hatred and provoke others to do evil?
“Sheila, because sin is sin.” This life isn’t fair, but God is just. We are born into a fallen world. Until we come into relationship with Christ, we are all evil and prone to sin. When we follow the world’s example and determine for ourselves who deserves grace and who doesn’t, we are as messed up as the world. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ever be upset or angry about the evil things people do, but when we allow our feelings to take over in a way that pushes God out of the equation and we follow our own agenda, we become part of the problem.
There was a man named Jonah who didn’t think the people of Nineveh deserved God’s grace, either. We tend to judge Jonah because he didn’t do as God required at first, but I have come to the conclusion there is a little Jonah in all of us.
Can you imagine what would happen if those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers would start loving and praying for our enemies? We ourselves were all enemies of God at one time, and because of Christ’s love for us we were given the gift of His grace. The only side Jesus wants us to choose is love. Click To TweetThe only side Jesus wants us to choose is love. We can’t change the past, but we can change the future. And we can’t change people’s minds, but prayer can.
We can say the fight is about statues, race, rights, and beliefs, but the truth is we are dealing with principalities of the dark and as long as we perpetuate hate we become part of the curse of death. Every time we fight with each other we all lose and the devil sits back and laughs.
The only way to change the circumstances is by each of us taking responsibility to pray and demonstrate love, even to our enemies. Will it be easy? No. It will take self-examination, prayer, and obedience to God. This will mean putting others before ourselves. It is going against the grain of the world, which won’t understand our actions, but the world didn’t understand Jesus’ actions either.
The important question is, will we listen to God or will we continue running and doing our own thing? How much will it end up costing us if we don’t follow the Word of God and love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and those we care about?
We can no longer afford the luxury of sitting on the sidelines doing nothing, or believing the issues going on are all others’ problems and not our own. Throughout scripture we see what has happened when God’s people choose to run away from their problems rather than to run to God with their problems.
It isn’t our responsibility to pass out judgment. That is God’s job. It is our job not to allow evil to have precedence over good.
Luke 6:31-34 says, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.”