43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven .Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest challenges as I try to walk in Christ, to walk as one cleansed of sin, is to live out the above. I can usually deal with those who want to frustrate me, well most of the time, but when someone does something against my family, either my biological one or my family in Christ, or does something that stops the family of God from being out there, searching for and taking in those whom Christ died for, I want to go all “billy jack” or “chuck norris” on them.
The last thing I really want to do for them, is love them. I want the right to be righteously indignant, I want to just take them on, and show them how their error – whether legalism that makes the church a fortress safe from invasion, or the extreme liberalism that basically turns the church over to the world and disregards God’s mercy, either way.. there are stumbling stones that… I must get rid of quickly. Time to grap a sword, put on armor and start the next crusade!
At least that is my reaction in anger.
Then the scripture comes alive… and I wonder, as a friend pointed out recently in a pastor’s gathering – should I be angry or grieving? In anger,
If I am angry I want retribution, I want to quickly eradicate the problem, even if the cost is great, or it simply inflames the situation.
If I can breath for a moment, I will realize that the anger hides my own pain, my own hurt, the brokenness caused, and the sorrow over what I hold dearest betrayed. If the people I blame my struggle are indeed “enemies of the cross of Christ”, will my reaction be to admit the sorrow, the pain, the loss of a relationship, of the loss of possible relationships? A
I can never love the enemies I am angry with… but I can love those whose actions cause sorrow. Such was the actions of Christ, towards us. If we could love them, if our goal wasn’t wrath and our version of justice, could we instead aim for their being found righteous in Christ, and instead of frontier justice, we find reconciliation at the altar?
This week’s sermon will go down this line further… but today, as people antagonize you, or others actions just infuriate you…before you react, think through the hurt and pain you feel – give it as well to God, then, even as you grieve…try to love them, knowing Christ’s love for the both of you.
Such is living in Christ…
In my devotions this morning – thinking through the sermon passage for this week, I came across this:
“When you open the Holy Gospel, think that what is written there—the words and deeds of Christ—is something that you should not only know, but live. Everything, every point that is told there, has been gathered, detail by detail, for you to make it come alive in the individual circumstances of your life. God has called us believers ( original said “Catholics”) to follow him closely. In that holy Writing you will find the Life of Jesus, but you should also find your own life. You too, like the Apostle, will learn to ask, full of love, “Lord, what would you have me do?…” And in your soul you will hear the conclusive answer, “The Will of God!” Take up the Gospel every day, then, and read it and live it as a definite rule. This is what the saints have done.”
The will of God – to love Him completely, to love your neighbor..
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2721-2729). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
1 GOD spoke all these words: 2 I am GOD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. 3 No other gods, only me. Exodus 20:1-3 (MSG)
For the last week, I have been as angry as I can get, saddened by an action taken, that I can only describe as wrong, as a cruel betrayal. From my perspective, the betrayal is heinous, as hideous, and all the more, it was unnecessary for any action to be taken. I am still trying to chart a course that will allow me to speak clearly and confront it, even thought I presume it will not matter.
It probably doesn’t help that in the midst of this, I have been helping people deal with the death of loved ones. Death has a way of putting things in perspective, of causing us to realize how incredibly helpless we seem to be, of how life is still but a mystery, and death, a great equalizer.
As I prepare for another memorial service today, of a man who was one of those guys, that pastors need, someone who allows us to be…human, to be ticked off, to blow off steam and to work together, I started to wonder…
Why do we so need to play God? Why do we expect that we have a right to righteous indignation (are we righteous enough ourselves in the first place?), to strike out with wrath, to get vengeance (and revenge). Haven’t we had to face our own failures? Don’t we realize we deserve wrath? Don’t we gather on Sundays (at least some of the time) to celebrate that we have been shown mercy?
We don’t have to play God – don’t we realize we have One? One who delivers us from truly righteous indignation, the One who has the right to wrath, and would so easily pass on it, so that He could embrace us as His children, give us comfort and peace, and walk with us, sharing every moment of every day, pointing out the blessings that He created, and reminding us that His greatest masterpiece….
Is His people, reconciled to His, made part of His family, welcomed into His presence.
Lord this day, help me contemplate how to address that which has been done that is evil, not to pass judgment on those who took part in it, but to heal its damage, to depend on you to see created an atmosphere where forgiveness is sought, where mercy is dominant, where love prevails.