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Love Who?! II

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Prayer for a person is the best antidote for bitterness felt against that person.

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Love Who?!


How Do I Love My Enemy?

  • I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.  ~ Nelson Mandela
    • If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

Please click on the links below and read before going any further:

The news articles above leave me speechless.  Another one that I remember hearing, but couldn’t find reference to on the net went like this.  Parents of a child who was murdered forgive murderer…spend time with him weekly…pray for him…say that want to treat and spend time with him as though he was their own son.  Yes.  The news story was saying that the parents considered this enemy of theirs as their own…and he felt the same way after a time of healing.

Can you imagine?  Jesus asks us to love our enemies.  Let’s break this down.  Love in the Bible is not shown as a feeling…it is shown through action.  Jesus’ love for his creation was shown through His miracles.   Do you also remember His encounters with the woman at the well?  How about when He asked Zaccheus for lunch?  How about when He washed His disciples’ feet?  Jesus’ love for us was delivered through the cross and empty grave.  James writes that we should take care of orphans and widows to show are love for God…our pure religion (James 1:27).  James also writes that our faith, without works, is dead (James 2:14-26).  Love is not something you simply have for someone…proof of love is in what you do for them.  Jesus asks us to love our enemies.  Since it’s not a feeling…what does that look like?

Last week we looked at being nice to people who are against us…this week Jesus just continues this theme.  Not only should we be amicable, beyond the norm, to those who want or take from us, but now we are being asked to have a completely different attitude towards those that think evil towards us.  Did God ask any less of Jesus himself?  No.  While on the cross, Jesus forgave the men who drove the nails into His hands (Luke 23:34).  Last week we looked at how we should be meek, having a quiet strength, when taken advantage of.  This week we’re looking at the intentional, forward looking, proactive stance we should have for those we know are against us.

Jesus has a way of going deeper though.  He asks us to love our enemies.  If they need something, do something good for them.  But not only that.  We’re asked to think about them even when they’re not doing anything against us.  We’re to pray for them.  Personally, I don’t want to think about people who don’t like me.  I’d like to forget about them.  Jesus didn’t forget about His enemies though.  He died for them…and continues to work through His body, the church, to bring them over from the dark side.  Oh wait…we’re the church.  Ahhh…so now it’s making more sense.

We are to love our enemies because Jesus already died for them…and He needs us to show them His love.  They might know about His historical death on the cross…but maybe haven’t seen His love in action.  We’re His hands and feet.

As I’ve said before, it’s a Kingdom thing.  We’re acting and reacting on the King’s behalf.  We’re suppose to look like Him…behave like Him…pray like Him…love like Him.  Verse 42 of our section of scripture confirms this.  We are to be Holy like God is.  No.  We’re not perfect.  But even though we’re not, we’re still asked to act like Him who is making us perfect.  Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  Do your actions show this process of being made holy?  This question can only be answered by you and your Savior.

Questions For Leaders:

  • Do you have any enemies?  If so, who?  Be specific if you can.
  • Now that you’ve named a few, what will you do for them this week?
  • I know…that last question might have been a bit forward…Jesus was forward too.
  • Remember, without intentional thought and proactive planning, our ‘Love our Enemies Actions’ will never take place.  Jesus doesn’t say for us to react to them, He asks us to pray for them.
  • Does Jesus really think we can do this stuff?  Why?
  • Why do we hesitate?  What will get us past this hesitation?
  • In the context of this lesson, what does this verse really mean?  Romans 8:31 (NIV) “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

love-serve-spread the Word,

ed

I only want revenge. Is that so wrong?


‘Might not be getting even…but it is Revenge’

Two missionaries in Africa were apprehended by a tribe of very hostile cannibals who put them in a large pot of water, built a huge fire under it, and left them there.

A few minutes later, one of the missionaries started to laugh uncontrollably.

The other missionary couldn’t believe it! He said, ”What’s wrong with you? We’re being boiled alive! They’re gonna eat us! What could possibly be funny at a time like this?”

The other missionary replied, ”I just peed in the soup!”

GETTING EVEN….RIGHT OR WRONG?

Revenge can get nasty.  A few years back I was privy to a “prank” situation happening among staff where I work.  If I remember right, it started with a roll of toilet paper and someone’s car.  It ended with no less than one full package of Oreo cookies twisted apart and stuck to the entire windshield of another person’s car.  Actually, it ended when the director of that area called a cease-fire.  The back and forth play lasted almost a couple weeks and was funny at times…but at other times…was a bit tense.  The tense times came when a victim of a prank didn’t laugh.  You could see revenge in their eyes.

Look where we’ve been.  Jesus has walked us through the concept of hate, adultery, divorce…and Jesus is now asking us to “turn the other cheek.”  I think there’s a pattern forming here.  Jesus has been laying out a lifestyle that will look foreign in our world.  Think of the one person in the crowd on that mount…listening to Jesus…who had been through it all.  Maybe there was one person who was dealing with hate towards his ex-wife who cheated on him and then divorced him and now Jesus is asking him to not hold a grudge…to not want revenge…in fact to possibly take on the heart of a servant and still love her as a Jesus would.  In the rodeo world, Jesus is saying, “Man up!…My way!”

Here are common phrases we hear today.  “Why I oughta…”  “He’s going to get what’s coming to him.” “I’ll take her for all she’s worth.”  “They think they’ve seen the last of me.”  “Fight fire with fire!”  “They haven’t seen nothing yet.”  I’m sure you could type in more…with much more colorful language.  We live in a world where getting even is the norm.  Jesus is saying that it is not His norm.  The Old Testament rule was to limit retaliation to equal parts.  Jesus came and gives us the principle behind the limit of an “eye for an eye.”  It’s all about keeping your heart pure, even in the midst of hate and relational separation.

Why?  Why does Jesus ask us to be like this?  We want to be able to stand and defend ourselves at all costs.  However, Jesus says that all power belongs to Him and all judging belongs to His Father.  Psalm 75:7 says, “It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”  One of my favorite verses, Proverbs 25:21-22, says this, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  What the heck does this mean?  It means that when you do something that is so out of the ordinary with this world, people won’t be able to just sit back and ignore it.  Your action will be noticed…even if in secret.  The world expects us to fight back…to retaliate.  The Gospel, full of Grace, expects us to forgive and to never stop serving.

Do you see how in this the Church is a force to be reckoned with?  We have the power.  This is how the Kingdom advances.  It’s not about us.  It’s about Him.  Our home is in Heaven.  When threatened with death, Paul knew where his real home was and was not afraid at all to speak truth and love and forgive all.  Can we be that bold to love and to continue loving even when our flesh wants revenge?

I often wonder what Peter felt when Jesus looked him in the eye and told him that nothing, not even Hell would stop the church.  My guess is that Peter, over time, realized what Christ meant and took him at his Word.  Peter, later in life, peacefully walked through beatings and jail time for living as Jesus asked him.  Eventually, Peter was crucified upside down.  He became known for his strength.  But it wasn’t strength of brute force.  It was strength of consistency and tenacity.  He did the right thing at all times possible and continued to spread the love of Jesus where ever he went…without revenge.  Perfectly?  No.  Forgiven?  Yes.  And Peter…and Paul after him…eventually met their Creator and received that welcome, “Well done…”

Can you match those actions…the actions Jesus calls us to?  Can you turn the other cheek?  Give more than asked?  Go farther than asked?  All for the sake of the One who created you and will welcome you into Heaven?  I hope so.  Tough?  Yes.  Possible?  Very.  Just imagine what our community will be saying about us if we can all get this right. Just imagine who might want the strength that they see in us.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

PS – Biblical example of not taking revenge and still keeping honor for the other person?  David and King Saul – 1 Samuel 24 and 26.

Questions for changin yer life:

  • How are you in the “Someone made me mad and I’m gettin even” category?
  • Can you see how revenge might hinder the passing of “the blessing?”
  • Can you see how Grace will make someone stop in their tracks and ask you, “What the heck!?”  What will be your answer?
  • Have you experienced Grace like this before, when you maybe deserved something else?
  • How will you deliver Grace to someone this week when they might deserve something else?  No, seriously…this week.  Make a plan.  We can talk about it all day, but if we never make a plan to get it done, it won’t get done.
  • Discuss next week how the plan was accomplished.   Who did you give grace to?  Who did you forgive?  Who did you go an extra mile with?  How did it feel?
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