The Lord’s response to “Lord please defeat my enemies!”
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 Then I said, “LORD, you understand. Remember me and help me. Let me have revenge on those who persecute me. Do not be so patient with them that they succeed in killing me. Remember that it is for your sake that I am insulted. 16 You spoke to me, and I listened to every word. I belong to you, LORD God Almighty, and so your words filled my heart with joy and happiness. 17 I did not spend my time with other people, laughing and having a good time. In obedience to your orders I stayed by myself and was filled with anger. 18 Why do I keep on suffering? Why are my wounds incurable? Why won’t they heal? Do you intend to disappoint me like a stream that goes dry in the summer?” 19 To this the LORD replied, “If you return, I will take you back, and you will be my servant again. If instead of talking nonsense you proclaim a worthwhile message, you will be my prophet again. The people will come back to you, and you will not need to go to them. Jeremiah 15:15-19 (TEV)
419 An apostle must not remain at the level of the mediocre. God calls him to be fully human in his actions, and at the same time to reflect the freshness of eternal things. That is why the apostle has to be a soul who has undergone a long, patient and heroic process of formation. (1)
A few days ago, I wrote a blog that we as Christians don’t really have enemies, we have adversaries. That our goal was not to defeat them, or crush them, but instead to love them, to pray for them, to come alongside them, that they may know the love of God. That is what following in the footsteps of Jesus is, that is what being a child of God looks like. Growing in our trust of God to the extent that we begin to love as Christ does.
I got a bit of feedback, some quite defensive saying we can’t avoid enemies – they will come after us. My point seemed to be lost, or maybe poorly communicated? It is not that they don’t oppress us, or challenge us, or even hate us. That’s on them. But when we decide that they are enemies, when we make that judgment, it places us in a battle, either offensive or defensive, and negates our ability to minister to them. Our reaction to enemies is different than our reaction to an adversary.
this morning in my devotional time, I read the passage from Jeremiah above. Jeremiah is one who had significant opposition, primarily for speaking out for what God wanted from His people, what He expected as part of the relationship, how He expected them to love each other, and Him. Not a easy message then, nor is it one today. He got a lot of opposition, and here we see him asking God to take care of it. The opposition is real, death threats have been made, serious ones. This isn’t just whining because he didn’t get his way.
But his attention in the midst of the opposition has shifted. It has become personal, this opposition to God’s word. Jeremiah has lost his focus, as we all do at times. He focuses in on his on righteousness, his own goodness.
And God rebukes him, takes him back to the beginning.
God doesn’t promise vengeance on them, instead He tells Jeremiah to return, to repent, to re-focus on the relationship between God and Jeremiah.
That’s a message many of us, including me, perhaps today especially me, need to hear. For we get tired and weary, as we see people choose evil, make decisions that ignore God, and walk on paths that are self-destructive. The temptation is to compare their journey to ours. “Wouldn’t they be better off like us, why can’t they see this?”
While what we should be doing is speaking to them about Jesus’ love, about His mercy, about their need for it in their lives. They need to hear His message, His gospel, His word, and that may take some time. It may take some time for us to get it right, to learn to speak His word, not focus on our situation, to bear His cross, to pray for those who persecute us. Rather than just condemn them and desire wrath, or to give up hope for them, we need to learn that if God is patient with us, not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance… than that is our path, our desire. This focus on the eternal takes time – even for prophets and apostles… we just need to remember to turn to Him…..
So we need to pray for them, ask God to save them, Speak the truth in love regarding their sin and ours, and that God offers hope… He will return them… He will welcome them home.
Lord, have mercy on us ALL…. AMEN
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1878-1880). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on June 30, 2014, in Devotions, The Furrow and tagged Enemies, Isolation, life, love your enemies, mercy, Prophet Jeremiah, reconciliation, repentance, self-righteousness, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.