Day 28 - Pauses for Lent - Enemies


Matthew 5:44 – 45 – “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Wow.  Love your enemies?  Pray for those who persecute you?  Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it?

But that is what Jesus said to do.  Moreover, that is what Jesus modeled for his disciples and for us.
I wonder why.

It seems to me, if I am to be intentional in praying for my enemies, that this forces me to first identify my enemies or those who would persecute me.  Do I have enemies?  Are they really enemies, or just folks with whom I have disagreements?  How deep seeded are these issues?  Do I actually dislike the person (“those” people); do they intend harm; or do I simply disagree with their attitude, or their position on an issue? This humanizes the situation.  After all, they are children of God.  Then one must pause.

I have concluded, that we are quick to overuse the word enemy, which is too bad.  It becomes divisive; when listening, understanding, compassion and empathy would be so much better.  Perhaps we could even agree to disagree, and still get along with each other.
Can Christians have real enemies, detractors and persecutors?  In my reading, I have concluded we can.  I would say that we will.  Jesus had enemies, the apostles did, the early church did, and we do.  Read the Gospels, read Acts, read a newspaper, watch TV.

Jesus did not say we won’t have enemies; he tells us what to do about it. What we are to do is radical – pray for them.  You know, He may be on to something.  Prayer can change our hearts and the hearts of those we pray for.

I hope that I am not somebody’s enemy.  I think I’m a pretty good guy. I hang around with good folks; I even go to church.  But I just might be, or may be perceived as, someone’s enemy.  How wonderful it would be, if they were praying for me.
Pat McNulty, Member of Madison United Methodist Church and Member of the Council on Finance & Administration (CF&A) Executive Committee

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