Let’s Pray for Those Who Persecute Us

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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…

45that 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

Caryl

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Light in the Darkness

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by Caryl Moll

Despite the new norm of social distancing and isolation, some incredible stories have emerged from this world-wide pandemic.  I’m not discounting the terrible news that gets the headlines, but I’m talking about those un-highlighted, beautiful accounts that can easily go unnoticed. We need to look out for them.

There have been romances that have blossomed and some singles have finally met their soul-mates. One can feel their happiness as they describe their hopes and dreams for their future. Weddings are being planned or talked about. (Even in our own fellowship group! J Congratulations Evelyn and Jeff on your engagement!)

There have also been some amazing accounts of kindness, unbelievable generosity, encouragement and inspiration as folk have stood in the gap for others who are suffering.  The accounts of compassion that I hear from my own family’s ‘Health care worker’ in the frontlines are simply heroic. Prayer chains have strengthened, songs have been written and followers of Christ have discovered new talents and callings. We’ve drawn closer to God in our isolation.  There have been live streams, podcasts and an explosion of Christian literature and study. I personally have discovered new meaning in my writing.

And we’ve had the unique opportunity of noticing the smaller things in life. I’ve relished my garden and the myriad of birds that grace the branches of our trees. Hubby and I have done numerous bird courses – it’s been simply eye-opening. Why have we not done this before? And then there are the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that only Africans understand.  I’ve had the opportunity to watch many from my rooftop – standing, breathless, in awe of God’s unbelievable creation. I can only conclude that there is immense goodness around us and I can see the hand of our amazing Lord working in it all.

Long-term relationships too have found new meaning. For me, personally, I have had the joy of watching my husband work from home. It’s given me new insight to his daily hurdles and triumphs. I now understand how God is using him and the purpose he has on this earth.  It’s made our bond stronger as I have realised that he needs my constant prayer. This is an immense privilege and blessing.

I have also made some brand new friends during lockdown.  The digital world and technology has opened up a whole new era of communication and interaction.  ‘Whatsapp’ virtual tea dates are fun.  Meals can be shared while chatting over video-calls and conversations can be deeper than what we’ve been accustomed to.  We can feel safe in our own spaces, knowing that the world is just ‘working it out’ as we grow in God.

There is one particular friend that I so appreciate – my new friend, Julie. We refer to one another as ‘The friend I have never met’. Luckily she is not a ‘total stranger’, because we have some mutual friends, but we’ve never actually met in person. Our friendship has grown over the months. As we have chatted, ‘virtually’, we’ve discovered that we have very similar lives and values. We are both deeply Christian, we both have adult children in professions; we have both been married for a long time; we both have a love for animals; we are empathetic to those who are hurting; we both are extremely creative, etc. Amazingly, we’ve both had the opportunity of ‘being there’ for one another telephonically when the wheels have fallen off.  She’s become my prayer partner too. I am amazed that all this has happened during lockdown as, like others, we’ve reached out to the unknown.  

My ‘friend that I’ve never met’ has recently introduced me to the wonderful pastime of ‘BIBLE JOURNALLING‘.  (If you are a creative person, please give it a try. It’s wonderful! ) It’s a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God as we inject creativity into our quiet times, meditating on His word and finding new hope and meaning in the joy of what it means to be a Christian. My heart is exploding in God-given creativity and I may have never experienced this in the ‘normal world’. I know deeply that God is always with me – none of us are ever alone. We just have to open our hearts to new beginnings and possibilities.

So, today, dear reader, I encourage you to look beyond the confines of your own home and emotional shackles; to reach out to others (safely) and to find new, growing meaning in your circumstances.  LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE IN THE DARKNESS!

May God bless you as you discover your purpose with Him.

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

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