Saturday, May 26, 2007

Compassion, Loving Our Enemies, and Fighting Our REAL Enemy

I just looked at an article by a well respected Christian leader (fundamental, non-charismatic) and felt saddened by how much effort we put into attacking people in the world. It doesn't matter who it was or what it was about, it's easy to find books, articles, sermons, etc...that people have poured endless hours of time and energy into to combat the church's perceived enemies. I suppose included in that list would be pornographers, Hollywood, abortionist rights people, liberal political adherents, feminists, the homosexual community, people in other religions, atheists/humanists, other believers with different theological bents, and the list goes on and on. We often view anyone who passionately fights for beliefs different than our own as our enemies, people who are trying to destroy us and everything we stand for (and sometimes they really are).

It seems the common way of dealing with these 'enemies' is to fight back. Now as good Christians we normally fight back with lots of words and little else, but our attitude towards our enemies is certainly often less than compassionate and loving.
Jesus said:

"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 that persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." (Mat. 5:43-44)

I suspect that there's a good reason behind why Jesus told us to love our enemies. First of all, these enemies are souls he loves and wants to save, kind of like he saved us while we were still his enemies. Second of all, when our attention is focused on flesh and blood enemies, we forget about our real enemy who is not flesh and blood. I think the word 'pray' is a little tip-off that those who persecute us need prayer. They are prisoners and slaves of Satan and need to be set free! In fact, all humans, whether believers or not, have a common enemy. Satan is trying to destroy and devour all of us, hating us because we bear the image of God. When you see this, it's becomes normal for us to view unbelievers with love and compassion. I mean, they are in the unfortunate position of being caught between two enemies--God who must pour out his wrath on sinners, and Satan who hates, lies, steals, accuses, and destroys anything God made. There is only one hope for them: Jesus Christ.

Let's not forget Ephesians 6:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

You see, fighting against people is a waste of our time. It will not bear the fruit we were meant to bear and quite frankly, it's beneath us! We have been empowered and commissioned with the authority of Jesus to stand against the schemes of the devil and wrestle against every demonic power this world has. And as we do that, we release the captive souls and set prisoners free to worship our Father in heaven. We take back this world for our King, the only Eternal Glorious King of Kings.

So I think the right response to people who persecute us is not to persecute them back with our hard words, but love them and pray them into the Kingdom of Heaven. I think that is a tactic our 'enemies' will find difficult to stand against!

1 comment:

Coralie said...

Amen and Amen. Christ said the world would know we are his disciples by our love.