Monday, June 10, 2013

Love For Enemies

Lately I have found myself becoming considerably angry at people who blaspheme Christ and mock His followers.

There are many people who deliberately speak against Christ using whatever forum they choose, even social media, to make their point.

There are some who twist the truth of Christ in order to align with their own moral compass; thus using His name to support sinful ideas and behaviors.

Many call Christians intolerant, ignorant hypocrites.  They say we are weak-minded and brainwashed puppets.  And they make no apologies for their blatant disrespect for our beliefs.

Now I am the first to recognize that Christians are NOT perfect.  Yes, there are times we ARE hypocritical and ignorant.  We are merely human though, aren't we?  We simply cannot live perfectly and we will always have some level of ignorance when it comes to understanding God and His Word.  This is not an excuse but a reality.  Nonetheless, we must strive to reflect Christ and His love in ALL that we say and do.

I also recognize that many Christian beliefs and values set themselves up against that which is deemed right and "politically correct" in this world.  So in a sense, we ask for the difficulty we receive. 

But I am disturbed when I lose sight of God's loving heart for ALL people regardless of their beliefs.  And my anger toward them concerns and even scares me. 

So the question for me is this...
How do I sincerely LOVE those who make themselves enemies of Christ?

The Man himself taught, [Matthew 5:44]
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Wow friends.  This is incredibly hard to do.

My most recent struggle with this brought me to 1 Peter 3:8-18. 
In verses 8-12, God highlights several practical steps that encompass loving an enemy:

Be sympathetic.
Be compassionate.
Be humble.
Do NOT repay evil for evil or insult with insult.
Repay evil with BLESSING.
Keep tongue from evil.
Speak truth.
Turn from evil reactive behaviors, do good.
Seek & pursue PEACE.

And then in verses 13-18, He further instructs us. 
Read this aloud and let the words penetrate your hearts:

"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."

If our children choose to follow Jesus they will certainly encounter many individuals who will dislike them, mock them, and even plot against them because of their faith. 

They will see actions and hear words that are specifically meant to blashpheme the name and truth of Christ. 

And they may, like me, find themselves struggling with anger toward those who make themselves enemies of Christ. 

Let's pray that they would respond in love and have the grace to live out the instructions of 1 Peter 3.

My heart aches when Your name is blasphemed.  And I confess that I very much struggle with loving those who deliberately speak against You and Your followers.  I find it much easier to pay back evil for evil but I understand that You are asking me to repay evil with blessing and to do good.  So I ask that you would help me AND my children to be compassionate and humble to our enemies.  Enable us through Your Spirit to keep our tongues from evil and to speak truth with gentleness and respect.  Stir within our hearts a desire for harmony and peace.  Help us to seek out and pursue those avenues that will accomplish this peace.  Replace our anger with Your loving heart towards our enemies.  And remind us to pray for them again and again.  May we set You apart as Lord and find comfort in knowing that when we suffer for good, we are blessed.

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