“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
Jesus instruction for us to love our enemies is a great challenge. Our normal reaction is to do anything but that. However, His words and life leave us in no doubt.
There are then two very good reasons for us to hear what Christ teaches us. Firstly, we were once ourselves “God’s enemies” and He reached out to us in forgiveness and love, so that we could be reconciled to Him and enjoy the blessings of His eternal love. Secondly, God loves the people who might fall into the category of enemy to us and would want us to love them for His sake and out of our love for Him – even if we are offended by their actions.
There will be many who have been terribly hurt or harmed through the violent or careless actions of others. For them forgiving and loving their enemies will be a much longer and more difficult road to walk. The most important thing is then to openly acknowledge our emotions and reactions to the Lord. Ask for His healing and strength within to enable us to begin responding more fully to His command. As we do so our own inner healing will begin to be liberated.
The best response that we can all make towards our enemies is, as Jesus taught, to pray for them. It is what He did – even from the cross. Pray that God will bless them with love, and healing and truth. Then we need to pray for ourselves, that we will decide to forgive them and, with God’s help, not stoke the fires of hurt and anger within us. We also need the love and healing of our Father – and can ask for it.
Don’t hold on to hurt. Pray it out. Speak to a counsellor if necessary.
Father You have forgiven me so much, and never stopped loving me. Please help me to be more prepared to forgive and to love others. For the sake of Jesus who died for us all. Amen.