Matthew 5:21-48; Exodus 30-32; Proverbs 14
As I read the news and see what’s going on in the world, one of the stories that sends me into a rage is that which is happening in the Middle East right now. We have a murderous group killing my brothers and sisters in Christ as well as innocent people of other faiths. It is safe to say that people like this are enemies of the cross as well as my personal enemies. And so, these words were hard to read this morning. “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you” (Matthew 5:43-44) How am I, personally, to react to these murderous scum? I am called to pray for them. I am called to love them. It makes me wonder about Jesus, to be honest. He couldn’t have known what people would be like. But He would go to the cross in a few short years. He would endure the agony of their rejection and then an execution so cruel that it was forbidden for Roman citizens. They were beheaded instead of facing the cross. He would cry out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And as I think of those words, I am humbled and called to repent. Were Jesus to look at ISIS today, or whoever will be doing this in the future, I can only believe He would say the same thing. And so I am reminded again that I am called to love my enemies, and pray for them. And I am reminded of President Lincoln who spoke of his enemies: “If we make them our friends, haven’t we destroyed them as enemies.”
Dear Lord, the idea of those murdering Your people becoming friends is so outrageous, I can’t even imagine it. Yet I follow the writings of one such man, Paul, as though they were Your words. I confess my sin that my prayer is reluctant, but I call on You now and ask You to show Your love and grace to those who are in ISIS. Reveal Your forgiveness in Christ and call them to repent of their sin and embrace You. Lord God, all peace in this world depends on a harmonious relationship with You. I pray that You would work to bring that peace especially to the Middle East.