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Monday, January 26, 2009

Love Your Enemies

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[January 26, 2009]   -- ďLove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.Ē-Matthew 5:44

At first glance we Americans know little of persecution.  Our children are not kidnapped in the middle of the night to serve in a rebel army as they are in Uganda.  We do not fear for our lives when we go to the market as they do in Baghdad.  We do not lose our job because we are Christian as they do in India.  And yet we all know persecution?  How?  Because we know people.  We all know someone who is our foil, our nemesis, our foe.  They donít like us.  They go out of their way to challenge or attack us.  Their mere presence unsettles us.  And so we respond to them  Sometimes we match their anger with our own; their yells with our screams.  Sometimes we ignore them and lie low, hoping they will leave us alone.  Sometimes we just fume in private and ponder opportunities for revenge.

But Jesus tells us these things just arenít acceptable.  He was not one for retribution and so he offers these words; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  Of all the things Jesus asks us to do I think this is the most difficult.  It is very difficult to put aside our concerns and angers and hurts and to pray for those who persecute us.  But Jesus teaches that prayer is the proper posture.  And the nature of the prayer is important.  Jesus is not telling us to pray that they will agree with us or be nicer to us, but instead our prayer should be one of selfless hope, that those who persecute us might find true joy and peace.  That is a radical difference!  So on this day I invite you to pause, think of those who torment and trouble you and say a loving prayer for them.

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Prayer:  God, please help me to pray for those who persecute me.  Help me to see their humanity and their identity as your child.  I offer this prayer in Jesusí name.  Amen.

[Text from file received from Jeff Blackburn]

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