Luke 6:27-28 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Jesus’ command to love our enemies is one of His most famous, recorded both here and in Matthew 5, and it’s also seen as one of His most “impractical” commands, because it so goes against our human nature. However, unlike so many politicians and leaders of all sorts, Jesus never told us to do anything He didn’t do Himself. The ultimate test of that was when He prayed forgiveness for those who had nailed Him to the cross. (Luke 23:34) This command should be in very sharp focus for every believer at this point, because the whole world is increasingly polarized, and everyone seems to see someone, or some group, as enemies. The starkest test of that in most people’s awareness at the moment is Afghanistan. Every Christian, and indeed every woman, in that area has every reason to consider the Taliban their enemies. The atrocities that are happening even at this moment are unspeakable. How do you pray for people like that, much less love them? We need to start by realizing that such people are terribly deceived by the devil, just like Jesus did on the cross. They are fundamentally just as human as we are, however inhuman they may act. Then, there’s the question of how to pray for them. What every person needs in order to get right with God is to repent. So it should be very easy to pray that they repent. Sometimes that’s all we can pray for them! If we think about it, we also can pray God’s best for them, because His best always includes a right relationship with Him, and if they have that, they will be very different people indeed. I’m reminded of Corrie ten Boom, praying for the former concentration camp guard whom she had seen beat her sister to death. She was speaking at a meeting and he showed up. She recognized him and froze internally, until God dealt with her on this very issue, and the man was marvelously born again. That’s just about as clear an example as Jesus on the cross, and it shows that Jesus isn’t the only one who can do it, if we will allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.
I’m grateful never to have had such stark enemies as I’ve just written about, but there are plenty of people about whom I have to consciously apply this Scripture. For starters, there are numbers of politicians and government figures whom I feel are actively cooperating with the devil and advancing his agenda. I certainly pray repentance and deliverance from deception for them! By God’s grace I feel I am fairly up-to-date on forgiving those close to me, and I am grateful to feel I am generally not treated badly by anyone. As a pastor I deal with people all the time who are bound by hatred and unforgiveness (thankfully not toward me) and ministering to them can be a real challenge. They have no grasp of how they are imprisoning themselves, far more than they are doing harm to the people they don’t think they can forgive. I have seen people destroyed by their lack of forgiving others. I talk a lot about how the Japanese language itself hinders the very understanding of forgiveness, because the word is a homophone for one that means “permission.” Since there are many things for which we should never give permission, people can’t understand how we can forgive those things. I explain it every chance I get, but this has to apply on a much deeper level than intellectual understanding, I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to get it through to them.
Father, this is certainly a challenging issue for the whole human race. May all of Your children trust You to work it in and through them, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!