by Caryl Moll
So today I set myself a HUGE challenge…
I decided that I would finally try to apply one of the most challenging passages in the Bible. Honestly, each time this scripture has confronted me, I’ve tried to side-step it. It is an instruction that goes totally against my natural grain. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Perhaps you feel the same?
The Bible clearly instructs us to “LOVE OUR ENEMIES AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE US” (Matt 5:43)
Why, on earth, would Jesus instruct this? Especially for ‘enemies’ who challenge our Christian beliefs. I argue with my Lord, “Why must I pray for someone who clearly doesn’t believe in you, Lord, and who clearly goes out of their way to shun my own beliefs?” It’s simply confounding.
Nevertheless, that is the instruction Jesus gives us.
I am a person who is naturally compassionate; I find it quite easy to understand someone else’s point-of-view. Even if they are unreasonable, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to their paradigm. But it hurts when another person doesn’t give me the same courtesy and frowns on my belief. In my sadness, I find myself remembering that incredible emotional transformation that I personally experienced when I submitted myself to Jesus and crossed the line of faith. I remember the overwhelming love I felt at the time…it was so profound that I simply WANTED to share it. I WANTEd others to experience it too – to feel that ‘peace which passes all understanding’.
Yet, there are other human beings out there that simply don’t understand…they seem to want to eradicate all signs of our risen Lord. They are fervent in charting their paths independently and shunning anything that hints of Christianity. Why should I pray for them?
So today, I decided to put all my preconceived ideas aside and simply follow Jesus’s instruction. I resolved to devote this day to raising up (in prayer) all my contacts who fall into this category; even those I’ve never met… Also, those in our politics, leadership and administrations who make the hair stand up on my back. TODAY I PRAY FOR THEM ALL! I recognise that they, too, have been created by my God and, like me, desperately need to be reconciled to Him – even if they don’t recognise it.
But I still wonder….WHY does Jesus instruct this?
Well, if you continue to read the beautiful passage from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gives this instruction, the reason is hinted at:
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
It is in the passages that follow this, where the answer is given…
“45…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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Imagine getting to the gates of heaven and discovering that your ‘enemy’ is there too. Imagine the joy when he/she comes to you and explains that it was your simple prayer that did it. Imagine the joy as you begin to understand the removal of their pain that was present in their life…just like yours. Imagine rejoicing together.
So, will you join me in praying for our enemies and those who persecute us?
With love, in Christ