Let love be the force

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. (Martin Luther King, Jr)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" (Matthew 5:43-44)

Probably one of the toughest things we encounter is the desire to actually 'be nice' or 'do nice things' toward our enemies. Why is that so hard for us? We feel wronged, leading us to feel a little bit like we aren't important to that other person, or that we deserved better. We want to let them know how much they have hurt us - how much their 'negative impact' has left us feeling like we were 'less than' or 'didn't matter' in their eyes - at least from the way we took their actions to mean. Jesus reminds those of us who have said 'yes' to him that it is responsibility to not only love our 'nice neighbors' or the 'friends we actually like', but to love our ENEMIES and then pray for those who 'persecute us'. 

The 'Enemy-to-Friend' pathway that King described isn't going to be easy - it might even come with some sacrifices on our part that we didn't think we had to make! Whenever someone is pursuing us with any form of harassing or 'oppressive' treatment, we most likely don't feel like we would ever want to pray for them. Their actions have been hurtful, and we would rather avoid them than ever encounter them again. We can spend our entire lives 'running away' from hurtful people, but will it ever do us much good? Not likely, for hurtful people will always be there - we have to learn how Jesus wants us to deal with their hurt. If I read this correctly, he wants us to take those hurts to him in prayer, releasing the individual and their actions toward us into his hands. Then we love them back.

It is that 'loving them back' part that is hardest, because our natural response might just be to strike back. Do we have to respond back with hurtful words? No, we can use words of grace. How do we learn the words of grace God would want us to speak? I think it comes as we pray for them, but especially when we lean into the inward prompting of the Holy Spirit in the moment. Our nature will want to rise up, but God's presence within us will tell us to settle into his peace and then allow his peace to shine through. It won't be the easiest path to take when retaliation is our immediate desire, but when we ask God to help, he will show us how to manifest grace. Remember, grace is never deserved - but it is can always be given. Just sayin!


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