Loving Your Enemies

13 04 2015

Persecution of Christians is making front page headlines. We watched in horror as twenty-one Egyptian Christians were beheaded by ISIS in Libya. More than 150 Assyrian Christians have been kidnapped by radical Islamic forces and are feared dead or enslaved. There were 147 Christians gunned down at Garissa University College in Kenya by a militant Islamic group known as Al-Shabab. While not physical persecution, we have watched across the United States as small business owners have faced financial repercussions for refusing service in situations that violate their religious beliefs.

Persecution is real. Persecution is coming. Persecution should be no surprise.

I will be honest. I have met each of these headlines with tears. I have joined the souls under the altar in heaven in crying out, “How long?” God, in His extraordinary patience and deep love, extends more time for even these enemies of the cross to come to know Jesus. While we wait, here are three things that Christians around the world can do as persecution flares.

  1. Pray for those Christians who are directly facing persecution today. Pray Ephesians 6:13 for them – that they will put on the full armor of God so that they can stand firm in Christ as evil presses in hard on their families, businesses, and even their lives. Pray for courage, wisdom, and grace to surround them as they wear Christ’s name.
  2. Commit yourself to eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No matter where they stand on the globe, Christians are one family in Jesus. Our love for one another is the testimony that will be most loudly heard around the world.
  3. Love your enemies and pray for those who are persecuting Christians. It is easy for our first reaction to be one of anger, to talk about what is wrong with “them”, and to bemoan the state of the world. I was most humbled by the words of one Coptic Christian leader to CNN after the murders of the twenty-one Christians in Libya. “We don’t forgive the act because the act is heinous. But we do forgive the killers from the depths of our hearts. Otherwise, we would become consumed by anger and hatred. It becomes a spiral of violence that has no place in this world.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to love my enemies. It would be simpler to talk about them, be angry with them, plot vengeance, or even ignore them. But Jesus calls us to imitate His heart. To love my enemies, whether in the office space next to me, around the block, or across the globe requires something active on my part. I must surrender my feelings and fears and put even those who seek to hurt me into the hands of God. That kind of Christ-formed love has the power to change the world.


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