Do I Really Have to????? Yes! Love Them!

Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

7  And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray for her, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” Jeremiah 29:7 (TLB) 

760         All right, I agree! That person has behaved badly; his behaviour has been reprehensible and unworthy; he deserves no merit at all. Humanly speaking he deserves to be utterly despised, you added. I understand what you mean, I can assure you, but I do not share this concluding view of yours. That life which seems so mean is sacred. Christ has died to save it. If He did not despise it, how can you dare to?  (1)

I am on vacation, and we’ve driven a bit here and there, and my memories go back to my childhood vacations in the lake region and in White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Three kids in the back of the old Chevy Malibu, and later in the Monte Carlo. God a bit cramped back there, and let’s just say it is was about as peaceful as the Holy Land. There was even the innocent victim (me) caught in between the rival factions.. I can still hear my dad and mom instructing my siblings to get along, to love each other, sometimes even to give each other a hug… a nice gentle one.

And the loud pitched, whining reply, ‘do I really have too???????”

Move forward to today.  Even if we are not caught into a political and historical mess like Israel and Palestine, we find ourselves in serious disagreements, We have rivals, we have those we don’t like, and we have those we are seemed destined to hate, because they hate us.  We are at war, sometimes in our workplaces, other times in our neighborhoods, with distant family, and sometimes, sad to say, in our homes.

We justify our anger, we get protective to stop the pain, to defend our reputations, even our families. There is a meme going around, saying that if they drop their guns, there will be peace, but if we drop ours, we will be annihilated. Not sure how true this is, but we take it is as truth, and apply that truth in our lives. We want at least the personal version of Mutually Assured Destruction.

We don’t realize how damaging this is, this dealing with enemies, this always defending ourselves.

Israel was in captivity when Jeremiah wrote these words, with the ancestors of those they have been engaged in hostilities with for centuries.  The prophet’s words are different, they don’t call for strategy, they don’t call for defensive posturing.  I chose the translation from the Living Bible because it identifies the city, these enemies.  Here it is, as we would normally here it,

7  And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT) 

Do I really have to?  Do I really have to love them, to pray for them?  Do I have to sacrifice time and energy to work for their peace and not just survival, but prosperity?

Do I really have to?

I mean St Josemaria described them so well, “All right, I agree! That person has behaved badly; his behaviour has been reprehensible and unworthy; he deserves no merit at all. Humanly speaking he deserves to be utterly despised, you added.”

And the response, read it again,

I understand what you mean, I can assure you, but I do not share this concluding view of yours. That life which seems so mean is sacred. Christ has died to save it. If He did not despise it, how can you dare to?

Here is a way, similar to the words above, that helps.  Hear Jesus words from the cross, Father, forgive (insert your name), for they know not what they do.  See Him utter those words, even as He is dieing, even as the pain wracks His body, even as the blood drips to the ground.  Now, Look at your adversary, see Jesus on the cross, begging the Father to forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing as well.  Let this thought be pondered in your heart for 10 or 15 minutes…. really dwell on it. Not just picture it for a second – go that’s nice.  But dwell on it until the tears come, till the pain is pulsing in your body, and then purged of it, the peace rushes into your soul.

See both of you, broken there… yet being lifted by Christ.  For in Christ, that which divides us is broken, in Christ there is mercy, in Christ, there is healing.

That’s why Jeremiah calls for us to pray for those who oppress us, because as God makes Himself known to them, as He calls them to be His children, as He blesses them, the blessing to us is beyond compare.

St Paul mentions this in his words to the Church in Galatia…

27  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28 (NLT)

There is our goal, this is our mission, our apostolate, to long for this healing, this reconciliation.  Tough?  Yes.  Painful?  Yes?  Calling us to sacrifice beyond our means?  Yes.

In Christ, there is no other choice.  It is our vocation, our life.

We pray, “Lord, have mercy on us sinners!”

 

 

 

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3158-3162). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on July 26, 2014, in Devotions, The Furrow, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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