“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
Bless those who persecute you…
I have no doubt that all of us at some point in our Christian walk have encountered less than desirable behavior from others, due solely to our faith. And if you live in the western world, it has probably been along the lines of ridicule, or exclusion, or possibly even a physical or political attack. That’s not to say that there aren’t those who have loved not their lives unto death, but I think it’s safe to say we have been blessed so far in our western culture to escape the most severe hostilities facing Christians today.
But, I fear this is about to change. And how will we respond when it does?
In many ways, I believe our response will depend upon how we react to these things presently. Do we get angry because our rights have been violated? Do we file a grievance when we are passed over for a position or other opportunities? Do we complain when we feel slighted by those who treat us differently? Do our feelings get hurt when we are excluded from a group or activity simply because we’re Christians? These may be things that work for us now, but they will not work for us in the future.
How many of you have the seen the movie Schindler’s List? The first time I watched it (yes, I’ve actually struggled through it more than once) I was struck by the lack of concern and even pride of the Jewish people prior to the unleashing of Hitler’s holocaust. Despite many warnings of imminent persecution, most refused to leave and continued to cling to their homes and possessions; never believing such a thing could or would ever happen to them. All the way up to the time when they were stripped of everything, and were gathered and placed into ghettos and camps, they were still completely unprepared for what they faced.
Here in America, there are warning signs everywhere. And not just in America, but throughout the world. Unlike Hitler’s Jews, we may not have the luxury of escaping to another country. We are the country to whom most are escaping.
So, what will we do when:
- We are attacked legally due to standing firm in our beliefs?
- We are sued and put in jail for refusing to stand down?
- We lose our jobs because we are not ‘diverse’ enough?
- We lose our homes because we no longer have income?
- We can no longer buy food because we no longer have income?
- Our children are scared and hungry?
- Our bank accounts are seized because we refuse to comply in some way or another?
- We can’t drive because we can’t afford gas or insurance?
- We can’t take the bus because we have a low social score?
- We are physically attacked by those who hate us because of what we stand for; without the protection of law enforcement.
- Our churches are burned to the ground and we’re forced to go underground?
- We are faced with the choice of denying God or laying down our lives for Him?
Do you think this sounds far-fetched? It’s happening throughout the world right now. Especially in China and many Muslim countries. And it’s on the rise in Europe. Do we really think it won’t make its way to our shores? The Bible tells us that it will.
Therefore, we must prepare our hearts and minds now to stand in faith against the pressure to give in when persecution comes upon our country, state, cities, and lives. We must learn to trust God now. Not only that, the Bible tells we are to learn to love and pray for those who hate us. We are to bless them and not curse them.
Yet, how many of us even now are cursing our leaders publicly and refusing to pray for them, because they are creating new laws that go against everything the Bible teaches, and are making our lives difficult? And what about Social Media? How many of us attack our persecutors on Facebook, Twitter, etc? Or anyone who disagrees with us, really. Not only that, but Christians are even attacking Christians!
Oh, how far we have fallen already.
It does not come naturally to any of us to love those who want to hurt us. Our sinful nature wants to lash out in self-preservation. It is only as we draw near to God, that we will be able to do these things. We are to love, as He loves. To be perfect, as He is perfect. And know that God will avenge His own.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”Romans 12:17-21
Cover Photo: Courtesy of pxhere.com
Copyright Free Photos
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright byThe Lockman Foundation