Loving Your Enemies, Praying for Those who Persecute You

February 19, 2017

When it hurts and we want to retaliate, what do we do?  When we feel threatened and long to lash out, where do we go?   We have all been told of the demands of social media, the addiction many have to the likes and need for likes on all accounts, from Facebook to Twitter, Snapchat to Instagram.  We know the reality of how easy it is to take someone down instantly.  But our focus, the focus the Lord wants us to embrace, comes with loving and praying.  So often we focus on how we long for justice to pay everyone back, but the Lord invites us on another road, a highway of loving and praying.  How do we get there and how do we find that place?

It all begins with a choice.  It begins with reconnecting to what we consider faith filled loving.  Love your enemies.  Instead of focusing on who is my enemy, we are called to focus on love.  What tugs at our hearts?  When do we say, “aww”?  When does love speak to us?  One of the loving acts that speaks to me is Jesus on the cross.  He loved, even as nails were hammered. He loved when exhaustion pulsed through His body.  Love came through the wounds.  Love happens when I hold up the bread that is no longer bread but is His Body.  Love happens knowing He has come here to be food for me.  When I focus on love, my enemies do not have the power.

I can remember one night in high school when I arrived home just after my girlfriend and I broke up and I was really hurting.  One parent always waited up for us. On that particular night, my mom drew the short straw.  I just sat on the winged chair and stared in the dark.  My mom who had dosed off looked at me, let me sit in the silence and said, “if it is meant to be, it will happen”.  She asked no questions, took no sides.  She believed in love overcoming pain.  When I sit in the silence, with my enemies surrounding me in my mind, I go back to those words.  Love is not about the questions or picking sides.  It is about relaxing in the moment you have a choice, to love or to hate, to be open or to close down.  Jesus is telling us to love.  Love the moment when you are surrounded by your enemies, because you possess something that can never be taken away from you, Gods’ purest love.

In praying for those who persecute you, first we have to carve out the time to pray.  When in prayer, while petitions show us to our needs, we are challenged to refrain from letting those who have caused us harm or those who have hurt us from stopping us in our direction of praying.  Prayer is the communication with God that involves not just taking a direction and moving with it, but also listening to the direction in which God longs for it to go.  It is a choice to pray.  It is a choice to sit in the silence to allow God’s words, the whispers that are made manifest in our soul, to take hold.  When we focus our prayer, the Lord challenges us to not go to the normal list. He invites to go to new places. He invites us to those who hurt us, challenge us, persecute us.  When we stay at the beginning, the focus does not distract us.

When golfing, I can look at the landscape in front of me, see the water calling out to me to hit it, the sand  trap wanting the pleasure of holding it for me, or the three trees promising to deflect the ball right back at me.   I can choose to look at those, or I can choose to just hold on to that which I have control of, the starting point.  Look down at the ball, trust your swing and let it happen.

When we stay at the start, the power lies in God.

Reverend John J. Ouper