Tag: pray for those who persecute you
Scripture reading for January 6th: Matthew 5:31-48, Psalm 5:1-6, Proverbs 1:28-33
Early on New Year’s day, a Coptic Christian Church, “All Saints” church was holding a service in Alexandria, Egypt. The church had over 1000 in the midnight service and as the worshipers were leaving, a suicide bomber detonated his vest and instantly sent 21 of the worshipers to heaven (we trust but only God knows for sure). Ninety-six others were injured and the blast destroyed cars and damaged buildings as well as leaving stunned, angry Christians to deal with this atrocity. Some hurled rocks and stones at the police and others attacked the Islamic mosque across the street. Others waved blood spattered sheets, weeping for the victims.
How would Jesus instruct these followers of His to react in this heart-wrenching situation? Does Jesus have a word for His followers? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-47)
These words are shocking to our senses in the light of the tragedy just described! What if the dead were our fellow church members or family? What if this had been going on for years and you had been loving and forgiving? Surely revenge would be appropriate! Jesus addressed that earlier–no revenge allowed! Overcome evil with good! (Matthew 5:38-42) (Romans 12:17-21) The way of Jesus is different than the way of the world. God loves these wicked ones as He loves us and desires that they would be forgiven and saved. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and God is love! He has given us His love through the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask Him to help us to love like He has instructed! Love never fails! (1st Corinthians 13:8)