loving our enemies by trusting God

Category : God, Jeremiah, bible, different, sin, trust

……….

Is there anything harder than loving our enemies?

If there is, I don’t know what it would be.  And frankly I’m not sure I want to know!

Until recently I have never had anyone I considered to be an enemy.  Sure there were people I didn’t like.  There were even people I found annoying.  And of course there were people who I didn’t trust.  But never anyone who has actively worked against me.

The one thing about living out a life of faith is that there is always more to learn.  God always has a way of giving us new homework.  Despite all of my study, all of my understanding of who God is, and what Jesus taught, I find I am really struggling with loving my enemies.  I would much rather destroy my enemies.  Or at the very least, make them look foolish.

But that’s not where Jesus is.  That’s not what God wants.

The book that drives this home to me is Jeremiah.  Now Jeremiah was just a normal guy.  He could easily be you or me.  Yet God called him to a unique mission.  And for much of his life he went around telling Israel they were about to be destroyed.  Talk about a crummy job description!

His life was in constant danger.  He was beaten.  Arrested.  Harassed.  And suffered an isolation that very few of us can understand.  To say the man made some enemies would be an understatement.  Yet he kept working at it.  He never gave up.  Despite his enemies, he never stopped moving towards God.

I have a hard time relating to that.

But when I look at it in light of who Jesus was, it makes more sense.  Jesus calls us to lead a counter-cultural life.  He wants us to be radical, revolutionary, and most importantly different.  (That’s why you see that phrase associated with R3.)

To prove this point, in his first public declaration of his mission, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Man that’s not what I want to hear.  I want to hear “Blessed are those with bigger baseball bats, because they will win.”  Or “Blessed are those who are quick witted, because they will make their opponents look dumb.”  That’s not where Jesus goes though.  He takes a different path.  A radical path.

If I’m honest, part of why loving your enemies is so hard is a lack of trust.  I simply don’t trust that God will take care of things.  I don’t trust him to be the arbiter of justice.  I think he needs my help.

Now I don’t think this consciously.  (Well until now).  But that’s how I behave.  I act as if I’m saying, “God, look I know you created the universe and can perform miracles.  But clearly you’re a bit out matched here…why don’t you let me handle this one.”

If I am to live a life of faith, I need to get with the game.  To focus on these revolutionary teachings.   To learn to really trust God when it’s all on the line.  At times that feels impossible.  As it did to Jeremiah.  But Jeremiah found a way to trust God.  And so can I.

I don’t like having enemies.  But sometimes that can’t be helped.  So instead of focusing on complaining, I am going to focus on trusting God.

I want to become more like Jeremiah.

quote of the day: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – forgiveness

Category : God, faith, live for the eternal, living a life of faith, love, taking action

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship wrote:

“Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.  Jesus does not promise that when we bless our enemies and do good to them they will not despitefully use and persecute us.  They certainly will.  But not even that can hurt or overcome us, so long as we pray for them….We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot do for themselves.”

drive-by prayers

1

Category : different, prayer, taking action

        

There’s something about driving in a car that brings out the best in us.  And by best I mean homicidal rage. 

Following God is more than an hour commitment on Sunday or a visit to an orphanage.  It’s about the way we live our lives.  This means that God has something to say about all aspects of our life.  And driving is no exception.  So I decided to follow through with some good old fashioned Biblical advice and love my enemies. 

Kind of radical, I know.  But it was hard to follow through on that.  How could I love someone when they were so clearly a moron?  Didn’t God see the fact this guy didn’t use his turn signal?!  Didn’t God know that parking space was mine?! 

Of course God did. 

But none of that excuses me for getting angry.  And I knew I had to act.   

The solution: drive-by prayers.  Whenever someone cuts me off in traffic I take a deep breath and ask God to do something for that person.  I don’t ask for wishy-washy “God please bless this person.”  (Although there’s probably nothing wrong with that prayer.)  But I prefer to spend some time and actively think of something specific to pray about.  Maybe it’s good health, no car troubles, or just having a great day.  I want what I pray for to have a real impact on their lives.  I want them to know God’s greatness through that act.  I try to focus on the other person, and in a small way, love them. 

It’s not easy.  Especially for those people who literally put your life in danger.  Sometimes all I can do is ask God that the person ahead of me (or behind me) realizes that they are risking the lives of other drivers. 

The one thing I include in all of these drive-by prayers is that whenever God acts on that prayer, they realize it comes from Him.  In the end I have no idea if these prayers make a difference with these drivers.  I’ll never see them again.  But they impact me.  They force me to think of others before myself, even when I don’t want to.  They put me in a service mindset. 

Like I said, this isn’t always easy.  But being a Christian isn’t about doing things that are easy.  It’s about living in a way that shows people we’re different.  And that there’s something more to life than getting to soccer practice on time or meeting friends promptly at 5:00 for dinner.