Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. 18 There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. 21 The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also. 1 John 4:17-21 (TEV)
303 A son of God cannot entertain class prejudice, for he is interested in the problems of all men. And he tries to help solve them with the justice and charity of Our Redeemer. The Apostle already pointed it out when he wrote that the Lord is no respecter of persons. I have not hesitated to translate his words thus: there is only one race of men, the race of the children of God!
We dwell in an age of fear, of anxiety, almost to the point of paranoia.
We may fear an unknown enemy, or an unseen one, like ISIS/ISIL. We may fear those who are seeking refuge, or those who immigrate here. We may fear a political candidate, and it doesn’t matter, whether they are in our part or not. We may be anxious about our finances, or our about our workplaces, or about a relationship with another person. Or maybe we simply are afraid of growing old, as our bodies begin to break down.
In fact, most stressful situations we find ourselves in can be dealt either fearfully, or peacefully. While our reaction may tend towards the fear, we can overcome that fear…if we dare.
Today, in fact, we are faced with a stressful situation, as school districts
Fear isn’t good, neither is its partner anxiety. It destroys and devastates the relationships in which we engage in, and others we should engage in. For example, welcoming those who flee war, and terror. Or those who live in poverty, or have led a broken life and been caught for it. Or those who are dealing with cancer, and need someone just to hold their hand.
To state it differently, will you allow fear to stop you from loving the people God has brought into your life (or desires to bring into your life) to love?
Will you realize the person you are ignoring, dismissing, even saying cruel things about as you refuse to consider their need, is human? A person God sent Jesus to die for, and rose from the dead to show that God will raise them as well? Will you look in their eyes and see their need for God’s love and the need you have to have them see that love in yours?
Will you set aside that fear, and love them as Christ loves you, confident that God has called you to live like this?
Would you want to live free of the fear, live free of the anxiety, to live in the moment, assured of the peace of God? Assured that even something horrid, were it to happen, would not separate you from God’s love?
That is how the church is described in Revelation, so confident of God’s mercy and love…
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 (NLT)
This is what trusting and depending on Jesus does to us, it is what happens as we realize the depth of the love which fills us, as the Holy Spirit resides in us, the Spirit who joins us to Jesus. That is the promise we have because God cleansed us in Baptism (see Ex 36:25ff) As John points out, we can love God because He first showed that incredible love to us.
this is what it is to live a life that is full of peace, peace that cannot be surpassed, that surpasses all understanding.
The peace that Christmas exists to proclaim, the peace of God revealed to be living among His people, to be living in His people.
Lord, have mercy on us, and assure us of your peace… AMEN
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1446-1450). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
11 They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life. Revelation 12:11 (NJB)
43 ‘You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. 44 But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; Matthew 5:43-44 (NJB)
23 Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die?” asks the Sovereign LORD. “No, I would rather see them repent and live. Ezekiel 18:23 (TEV)
The news again has horrible stories of terrorism in the headlines. The situation in the Kenyan mall, and the two churches in Pakistan that were hit by suicide bombers.
This time, the targets weren’t just political – but they were specifically religious. They were after my brothers and sisters in Christ. And there are new entries to the list of martyrs that extends through the centuries, and is growing day by day.
I want to be mad, I want to think about how to get revenge, whether its the President or some other official pushing a button and the merciless terrorists being zapped like vermin.
Yet I hear the words of my sermon yesterday, the quote from St Paul to a young pastor echoing in my mind, “I urge you – pray for ALL men, ask God to help them, intercede for them, and give thanks for them….”
Uhm God, is there an exception clause for this? Can we strike out terrorists of body, and those who terrorize the soul?
My mind cries out that I can’t love them, that it is illogical and stupid and asking for more pain to forgive them.
Gosh I dislike that passage in Matthew 5.
This week I preach on that passage from Revelation 12, and iti s in my mind as well – how much do we cling to life? Why do we do anything and everything to avoid death? We don’t like to talk about it, we spend billions on hiding it and our aging (growing toward it) in our culture… and we hate anyone or anything that threatens it. The Blood of Christ? Sure – we know and talk of that, our testimony about the Logos – the Word of God – Jesus? yes definitely!
But… death? Especially the death caused because of our witness to Christ? You see that is what a martyr is – one who testifies in view of death. And will embrace it because of that truth.
That is where I find the grace to even thik about praying for terrrorists, to hear the words, “pray for all people” and to know it includes those who encourage suicide bombers, shooters and others who are so full of sin and hatred that this is the answer they look for in life.
And then I remember those words from Ezekiel, those words that point to Jesus on the cross so clearly… for there we saw the truth of it.
God wouldn’t take pleasure in the deaths of terrorists, or those who indoctrinate or teach them. Not for a second. Anymore than He takes pleasure in any death, for at one time, we were all enemies.. and still Jesus died… we’ve sinneds, murfering people in our hearts, just as surely as others have done it physically.
And He loves us and pursues us and calls us… and prayerfully we hear and realize He forgives us and marks us as His.
This is perhaps the hardest and most blessed truth…. God loves and died for the terrorists as much as He did for the martyrs…..and weeps over the deaths of all.
Now… in this day – you have had some who’ve irritated you, you’ve had those people and those moments were you were just pissed off, you may have been betrayed, even brutally so…
So read those verses again – think through them… and ask God to touch those who’ve done you wrong…even as you rejoice in His bringing you back to Him.
And when its hard…to do this… cry Lord Have Mercy!