forgiveness

Dear Church, Love Always Triumphs Over Hate.

“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 makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” – Matthew 5:43-45

Last week, I watched a video uploaded by a pastor on YouTube. He told his opposing viewers to get over the presidential election and stop crying like a “bunch of babies.” Do you think his attitude was constructive? Was it in the Christian Spirit to sharply condemn in this manner? What does his response reveal to outsiders about the leaders in the Christian religion?

I don’t think calling people a bunch of crybabies is what Jesus would do. Jesus not only taught to love those who disagreed politically (Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God), but also to radically love your persecutors. And Jesus isn’t just talking about cyber bullying. He is referring to enemies of God who killed followers of Christ.

For instance, when Stephen  publicly praised Jesus in front of the Pharisees, they stoned him to death. What was Stephen’s response? “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” Isn’t this the exact response Jesus had when he was crucified? He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Compare the attitude of Jesus and Stephen to the pastor on YouTube. Isn’t there a stark difference? Why is it, then, that leaders in the church are not imitating what Jesus said? God told us to beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. I don’t know if this pastor is a false prophet, but I do know, based on his temperament, he shows no signs of the Fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).”

While I understand this political election has caused division, anger, and resentment, the Christian church needs to arise out of the ashes. The Church has a great opportunity to be the new role model. Can you imagine how many people would be attracted to a religion that tells them to “love those who persecute you?” A worldview that teaches all of us are “created in the image of God?” A belief system where God took on human flesh to die for the sins of rebels?

This worldview is the only hope for humanity. So what are you waiting for? Go, stand, and speak this great truth to a world in desperate need of acceptance, love, grace, and forgiveness found at the cross!

Bless And Love Your Enemies Like Jesus Did

grace

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9-10).”

Warren Wiersbe, an American Pastor, once said: “As Christians we can live on one of three levels. We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level. We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level. Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level. Jesus is the perfect example of this latter approach.”

How true! Jesus called us to radically love our enemies, not to take revenge. We should return positive good deeds for evil ones. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Moreover, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian believers to bless those who curse you and answer kindly to those who slander you (1 Cor. 4:12-13). This type of radical love is foreign to the world today.

In the Grace of Giving, the author, Stephen Olford, tells of a Baptist Pastor, Peter Miller, who lived in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution (1765-1783). He was good friends with George Washington and often visited him. In Miller’s place of residence lived a man named Michael Wittman. He was a bully and wicked minded man who would oppose and slander Pastor Miller daily.

One day, Mr. Wittman was accused of treason by the American government and sentenced to die. Pastor Miller heard about this and traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to defend this traitor in front of General George Washington. “No, Pastor Miller, I can’t grant you the life of your friend.” “My friend!” exclaimed the preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.” “What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant your pardon.” And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home–no longer an enemy but a friend.

When we bless those who curse us, we are demonstrating the love of God to the world. We are also admitting that grace was once given to us. There was a time when we were cut off and separated from God. Despite our former, rebellious hearts, Jesus decided to forgive us, so we should forgive others.

As Christians, never forget where you came from, lost and without any hope. Instead, be eager to share this hope with others. Ask yourself: Do you have any enemies at this moment? Are you storing up bitterness inside? Have you attempted to reconcile yourself to this person? As Christians, it’s our duty to seek reconciliation and peace. Please do this today before it’s too late.