Month: July, 2013

“One Thing”

Pastor Dan Haugen

July 21, 2013

“One Thing”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

I read an article last week from CNN entitled, “The Four-day Work Week,” which went on to tell the story of why many experts in the early part of the 20th century thought that by now, because of technological advancements, the average person would only be required to work 15 hours a week and would have so much leisure time as a result that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Many European countries have cut their work week requirements with positive results yet, here in America, we still slave away 40 hours a week, contrary to earlier predictions of shortened work requirements and more free time.

You see, what the earlier social scientists failed to comprehend, was America’s desire for “things.” We don’t work less hours then in the 1930’s, we work more and even this is not enough. Today, women are more likely to work then to stay at home because our desire for financial comfort has overcome our desire for freedom. We have developed a culture of busyness and we have gotten away from many of the things that should hold more importance in our lives.

Instead of focusing on all we could do with the freedom that technology has given us, our culture seems to bow down to the idol of busyness.

In her book called, “Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families,” Ann Kroeker writes this: “America, the land of the high-achieving, multitasking speedaholics. We’re in perpetual motion, never resting, and never quite satisfied…American families are sucked into a vortex of activities and obligations. We pile on appointments, lessons, practices, games, performances, and clubs, and then shovel in fast food…western civilization’s high-speed, fast-paced, goal-oriented life has propelled us into a state of minivan mania.”

Kroeker also refers to a great book called, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg in which he tells about the time he asked a friend for some spiritual direction. Ortberg described the pace of life in Chicago, the rhythms of his family life, and the condition of his heart. He wanted to know what he could do in order to be spiritually healthy. After a long pause his mentor answered, “You must ruthlessly eliminate (busyness) from your life.” Ortberg wasn’t satisfied with this answer so he asked what more he could do. “There is nothing else,” the man said. As he reflected on that advice later, Ortberg made this observation: “(Busyness) is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. (Busyness) can destroy our souls. (Busyness) can keep us from living well…For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.”

Jesus had three friends who lived in Bethany whom He would stay with from time to time, Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. They all lived together in the same house and we can speculate that this house was owned by Martha because it is she who “opened her home” to Him. We know it was Bethany because John mentions the town in his Gospel. Bethany was located on the Eastern slope of the Mount of Olives on the road linking Jerusalem to Jericho about a mile and a half from Jerusalem. So it was a convenient place for Jesus and His followers to stay.

Both Martha and Mary are followers of Jesus but we see in this story that they chose to deal with Him in two very different ways. Mary focused on listening and worship while Martha focused on service. In preparation for the coming of the Savior, we can speculate that Mary was as busy with the preparations as Martha was until Jesus arrived, but when Christ did arrive, their focus, or at least that of Mary, changed.

You see, Martha had let busyness get the best of her, but Mary did not. When the time came to stop and listen to God’s Word, Mary did the right thing, contrary to Martha’s wishes. Mary knew it was time to stop what she had been doing to focus on something that was much more important, but Martha was worried about other things.

All of us suffer from worrying. We worry that we’re doing enough, providing enough and performing enough. We want our families to have the best of life, but the sacrifice we make, all too often, to achieve this is anxiety and lost opportunity. Anxiety because we know there is always more we could achieve in our worldly lives if only we could spend just a little more time accomplishing them and lost opportunity in the hours we spend achieving worldly things when we could be focusing on the things that will help us grow spiritually.

Jesus said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary had lost her focus and this resulted in self-pity, anger, and fault-finding. Because of this she begins to question God’s care. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

It reminds me of seminary. There were so many times that the busyness would almost get out of control. There were papers to write, books to read, classes to attend and very little time to simply sit and let God speak to me through His Word. Here we are training to be future pastors and yet we get through the week only to find we haven’t taken the time to read the Bible even once, not to mention devotion time or family time.

We let the busyness of our lives take control and we only allow God a couple hours a week on Sundays to speak to us in any real way. We lose the focus on what is of most importance because we have let the busyness of our daily lives get the best of us. The devil plays us like a harp convincing us to stay away from the Word to make time for worldly things that could eventually cause our destruction.

Jesus wants to remind us through His Word that He came to die so that we might have eternal life. He wants us to know that we have been called as sons and daughters of God and inheritors of his kingdom. He wants to tell us over and over again how much He loves us and will continue to love us. He wants to share with us the forgiveness given through His blood so that we might have peace, but we neglect to take the time to let ourselves be reminded.

When Martha approached God out of frustration, He responded back to her in tenderness. Notice that Jesus did not rebuke her for making preparations for Him and His disciples. He’s not rejecting Martha’s service to Him. But he is reminding her of what was of more importance. It wasn’t that Martha was doing something unimportant, it was that she was giving too much importance to it. Today we still have to be careful that the busyness we do that we think is proper and right doesn’t us get us off balance and distort what is of most importance in our lives, namely, our relationship with God.

Sometimes, even in our Christian lives, we focus on so many of the superficial things in ministry that we ignore the heart of ministry. In seminary sometimes we would be so focused on learning to be good pastors that we would forget what it was that makes us good Christians. In life it is so easy to get lost in the things of the church that we forget what really makes us part of the church.

Martha had good intentions, but her busyness got in the way of understanding what was really important in her relationship with Jesus Christ. She forgot that Jesus came more to be a servant than to be served. She got lost in the busyness and failed to embrace the opportunity afforded her by Christ’s presence. Martha forgot the one important thing by getting herself lost in a host less important things.

Martha came to Jesus because she wanted Him to lighten her load for the day. He did what she wanted but not in the way she expected. He lightened her load not by having Mary help her but by giving her a new perspective on her work. When we forget why we are doing what we are doing we can get turned upside down, and we may end up feeling overworked and under-appreciated. Dr. Mark Hollingsworth once said, “if we forget God while serving God we will probably quit God.” When we keep our attitude right we find that God will enable us in all we do that “needs” to be done with joy and satisfaction.

Unless we make the commitment to truly try to Know God, unless we take the time to spend time with Jesus personally and privately, we will soon end up like Mary lost in our busyness. Busy but not blessed.

Martha was not wrong and neither was Mary but where one was doing good, the other was learning greatness. The Christian life is learning to balance duty and devotion.

I don’t want to close our story of these two sisters without understanding the part they play in Biblical history. One of the two greatest confessions concerning the person of Jesus Christ was given by Martha and recorded in John 11:27, the other was given by Peter recorded in Matthew 16:16.

The setting for Martha’s confession was at that the death of her brother Lazarus.  Jesus had arrived and was seeking to comfort her and told her, “I am the resurrection and the life and He who believe in me will never die.” In turn he asked Martha if she believed this. Her response is one of the greatest confessions of all time, for Martha replies, “Yes Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world.” She evidently overcame her propensity to be distracted long enough and sat at the feet of Jesus enough to grow into a woman of profound faith.

We also have more recorded about her sister Mary. We meet Mary two more times, in Scripture, and each time she is at the feet of Jesus. In John chapter twelve in what is one of the most moving pictures of sacrificial worship recorded in scripture we are told, “Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany… There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil”

She was severely criticized by at least one apostle and possibly others for her action. Did she quit because of the criticism? No. She was one of the women at the tomb on the morning of the resurrection. When you sit at the feet of Jesus you learn not to quit because of hard feelings. You learn to turn the other cheek and go on. And by go on I do not mean go on down the road and join another church.

In Matthew 26:13 we find that Jesus had these words of compliment to say concerning this act of Mary, “… wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

These two passages, concerning Martha’s confession and Mary’s worship, give evidence that both these sisters achieved the balance between duty and devotion.

But the question remains, “What about you?” Take a moment to reflect. Where is your focus this morning? Have you been giving yourself to non-essentials – things that are here today but tossed out tomorrow? If so, set your minds on the one thing of most importance, Jesus Christ. Let Him take you to the places he has chosen for you. Let Him relay to you the love He has for you. Let Him speak to you through His Word and bring you peace through His blood. Become a follower, not a fan. Amen

 

 

 

“Who Is My Neighbor?”

Pastor Dan Haugen

“Who Is My Neighbor?”

July 14, 2013

Grace, mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… Please join me in prayer…

Shortly after coming to Christ, Sadhu Sundar, a Hindu convert to Christ, felt called to become a missionary to India. Late one afternoon Sadhu was traveling on foot through the Himalayas with a Buddhist monk. It was bitterly cold and the wind felt like sharp blades slicing into Sadhu’s skin. Night was approaching fast when the monk warned Sadhu that they were in danger of freezing to death if they did not reach the monastery before darkness fell.

Just as they were traversing a narrow path above a steep cliff, they heard a cry for help. Down the cliff lay a man, fallen and badly hurt. The monk looked at Sadhu and said, “Do not stop. God has brought this man to his fate. He must work it out for himself.” The he quickly added while walking on, “Let us hurry on before we , too, perish.”

But Sadhu replied, “God has sent me here to help my brother. I cannot abandon him.”

The monk continued trudging off through the whirling snow, while the missionary clambered down the steep embankment. The man’s leg was broken and he could not walk. So Sadhu took his blanket and made a sling of it and tied the man on his back. Then, bending under his burden, he began a body-torturing climb. By the time he reached the narrow path again, he was drenched in perspiration.

Doggedly, he made his way through the deepening snow and darkness. It was all he could do to follow the path. But he persevered, though faint with fatigue and overheated from exertion. Finally he saw ahead the lights of the monastery.
Then, for the first time, Sadhu stumbled and nearly fell, but not from weakness. He had stumbled over an object lying in the snow-covered road. Slowly he bent down on one knee and brushed the snow off the object. It was the body of the monk.

Years later a disciple of Sadhu’s asked him, “What is life’s most difficult task?” Without hesitation Sadhu replied: “To have no burden to carry.

Today’s gospel lesson is, of course, the familiar story of the good Samaritan. It takes place as Jesus continues to talk to the crowds that have been following Him to hear wisdom through His words.

At this time in His teaching an expert of the law questions Jesus about something in scripture. What is asked seems fairly simple, “What should I do to inherit eternal life? The expert in the law asks this of Jesus to test Him.

Instead of answering directly, Jesus turns the question back to the man asking what he thinks based on scripture, “What is written in the law? How do you read it? The expert in the law answers it very easily as he quotes scripture saying, “You should love the Lord your God with all that you are and love your neighbor as yourself to which Jesus tells the man “You are correct.

One would think that since the question had now been answered that the lesson would stop here. The expert in the law had other plans however, and in order to justify himself he asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answers the man like the master teacher that he is. He uses a parable, a story designed to instruct. Jesus goes on to tell the story of the man who had fallen upon bandits and robbers, and of the people who passed by as he lie suffering.

The story goes on to tell of the priest, a recognized religious leader; a Levite, a sort of lay assistant to the clergy; and finally a Samaritan, a foreigner who was hated by the Jews.

The Jews thought of Samaritans as half-breeds at best, both physically and spiritually. They were not true descendants of Abraham, therefore not the true chosen people but rather usurpers to his line according to the Jews of the time.

I think it’s interesting to note then, that Jesus is very specific in using a Samaritan in this story. Not only that, but he uses the Samaritan as the man who finally shows the compassion to the stranger in need. The Samaritan alone shows mercy on the man. He alone is the one who understands what a good neighbor really is and it is the Samaritan who is put forth as an example for us all.

Often we forget that to have rights, we must be deserving of those rights and the institution of those rights. You hear people raising their voices to claim their God-given rights. “This is my right as a mother, or as a citizen, or as a human being!” Most of the time in these little speeches or cries for justice – one element is sorely lacking. You see, along with your rights, come obligations. With the free gift comes a responsibility. And this truth applies to the grace of God as well.

Let’s take a look at the scene in the Garden – the home of our first parents. Adam and Eve were given and shown God’s love from the start.

They were given a perfect relationship with their Lord and Maker. With this blessing they were also expected to return this love. They were to love each other and love their Lord.

The Fall into sin came as a result of them not loving someone other than themselves, not loving their Lord above all else. Instead, they loved themselves first and foremost. They sought their own individual gain. Because of this idolatry –this putting of self before God, sin entered the creation and destroyed the perfect harmony which God had created. Adam and Eve separated themselves from God because they had made themselves their god.

We are as guilty as they were, we often put ourselves and our own selfish desires before the Will of God.

Often we seek to serve ourselves rather than our Lord. We put our own interests before that of our God and that of our fellow man.

But you see, with the free gift of God’s Grace, there also comes a duty – a responsibility. With God’s gift to us (of His mercy) comes a duty in the form of a divine command. We are to love the Lord God with all that we are AND, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We spoke a lot last week about God’s love and with His love entering into our hearts a number of things happen. Not only do we experience joy and peace in the recognition of our salvation, but our hearts are now made able to express this mercy and compassion to our fellow man.

Our eyes are now open to a whole new perspective. We hear of other people suffering and our hearts are troubled. This is what happened to the Samaritan. He saw the man lying there and he had compassion on him. Regardless of the cost to himself, he did what he could to help the man.

If you did not know of Christ’s love for you, you might hear of the suffering and pain of someone else and probably not recognize it as tragedy. Since it wasn’t happening to you, you might not care. Your heart would remain cold. But, with Christ in your heart, with Christ ruling your life, you experience compassion and you are made aware of mercy.

We are told to do likewise for your neighbor. Scripture tells us that the greatest love, is that a man lay down His life for His friends.

A few months ago, in a bible study, the question came up as to what Redeemer is really known for in ministry. After raising this question there was a long silence. I hope that one day we might say of ourselves that “We are known to be servants to Christ who are ruled by and live by the Word.”

What a great thing to be known for, but is that what people think of when they think of Redeemer and its people? Do they truly see us as people who live by and are ruled by the word?

Do they see it in our actions? Do they see it in how we live our lives? What are we doing to show this to our neighbors?

The goodness of the Samaritan was shown in his actions just as our goodness and faithfulness should be shown in our actions.

Our integrity will be shown in our dedication to our neighbors by how we act and by what we say. If we are a church of the Word we will dedicate our lives to its teachings. The greatest example of how to live a life dedicated to the teachings of God is none other than in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself.

People of Redeemer, Jesus Christ is the parable of the Good Samaritan – incarnated. Jesus is the parable of the Good Samaritan in the flesh.

While here on earth, Jesus recognized that every person was His friend, every man was His neighbor. And He loves us all with the same perfect love that His Father has for the world. He expressed that love in His obedience to His Father’s will, even unto death on a cross.

So, what does this mean for us? What are we to learn from His sacrifice? For us, it means that Christ died for us, and has won for us victory over death and damnation. It means we are again able to have intimate fellowship with our Lord and Creator. We are not destined to die. That is not our fate. We have been given life, here and in eternity.

What we are to learn from this, is that Christ has reconciled us to our Father in heaven, and He has given us the perfect example of what real love and obedience is, as we live out our daily lives. We are to love and serve God by actively seeking His will. His will is that we praise and honor only Him and that we care for our fellow man and deal with him in kindness and in mercy.

Our enemies have been destroyed – all who are left (every one we meet), are to be our friends. We are to show them the same love that Christ does in that we are to lay down our lives for our friends. This means sacrificing our selfish nature, putting our self-centeredness to death and living according to the fruits of our faith. We are to be kind, slow to anger, abounding in mercy, as our Father is to us.

It is an important lesson that Jesus taught to that expert in the law in the telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan. And that lesson has been preserved for us in His Word as, we too, learn who our neighbor is and how we should live with him in love and grace just as God lives with us.

Through Christ’s death and resurrection we have been given new life and that promise needs to be shared with all who are willing to listen. By God’s grace we have been given the opportunity to live for Him and Him alone. By this same grace we have been shown the way to heaven. It is our duty as good neighbors to both share this great news and to live a life in service to God that is made obvious in our actions. Our neighbors should see in us the same love and compassion that was shown by the Good Samaritan.

Galatians 5: 13-14 reads, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen

 

Loving Your Enemies

Pastor Dan Haugen

Loving Your Enemies

July 7, 2013

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father….

The military apparently understands the need to make their instructions memorable and so they occasionally resort to humor to explain the basics. For example:
Instructions printed on a Rocket Launcher tells soldiers to “Aim towards the Enemy.”
U.S. Marine Corps tells its recruits that when it comes to grenades: “When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is *not* our friend.”
Additional words of wisdom include:
1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
2. The enemy invariably attacks on one of two occasions:
• When you’re ready for them.
• When you’re not ready for them.
3. Don’t draw fire from the enemy – it irritates the people around you.
4. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in and you can’t get out. (Alan Smith)

These are some of the accumulated wisdom of the military when engaging the enemy. If you ignore these instructions, you can get hurt, you can get killed, and you can get the people around your killed. You may think you have a better idea…but your better idea could be disastrous. So pay attention to the instructions. Every good soldier knows that instructions like these can help them deal effectively with their enemy.

After all, our enemy is not our friend. Our enemy wants to do harm to us. Our enemy opposes those things we strongly believe in. So we should hate them……right?

Jesus says “wrong.” Those days are past. Gone are the days of “Love your neighbor but hate your enemy.” A new day has dawned with the coming of the Son, and He tells us not to hate but to love. Not only that but we are to pray for them and greet them with kindness.

Love them? Pray for them? Greet them? Really. But you don’t understand Lord, my neighbor is unfair and cruel. He is not a believer and He even hates kids. He’s constantly complaining and never has a kind word to say. He clearly doesn’t like us and seems to do things just to upset us because he hates that we’re Christians….and he does this most every day, and you want me to love him and pray for him and greet him? I’m sorry, did I miss something here? I don’t even like him, how can I love him? Why on earth would I want to do something nice for this guy?

We do this because it is what we, as Christians, are called to do. Romans 12:20 quotes Proverbs 25:21 when it says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” Luke 6:35 says. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and your will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” This is not a new command. We are called to let vengeance be the Lord’s and not bow down to worldly revenge. In doing so, we give nothing to our enemy to respond to but love.

Here’s other reasons I found for being nice to your neighbor:

  • It’s cheaper than getting a lawyer.
  • It decreases the likelihood that you’ll ever be a guest on the Jerry Springer show.
  • It’s what we Christians are asked to do by God Himself.

Paul says in Romans 12, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” and “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This has always been God’s will for His people. So why is it so hard for us to follow His instruction?

It’s because we are products of a sinful world and have been instructed by that same world to live in bitterness and anger towards our enemy. If our neighbor does one wrong thing to us we do two back to him. We are told to live by strength and not by meekness, hate and not love towards our enemy.

But Christ teaches us a better way. And there are reasons why the way of Christ way is better:

First, it helps us overcome our sinful nature. The devil works tirelessly to ingrain in us the culture of hatred and vengeance. He knows that it is easy for us to get lost in negativity. It’s what comes natural.

By resisting this natural reaction in us, it slowly changes us into the person God has created us to be, people of love and not people of hate, people of patience and not of intolerance. Yes, we are to stand against sin, be vigilant even, but our commitment to change is not to be fueled by wickedness and deceit.

Satan hates, and hates and hates and he teaches his followers to do the same. Paul told us in our epistle lesson last week from Galatians chapter five, that we are not to live this way. He reminds us that the acts of our sinful nature are hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions and factions. These are to be avoided. If we allow these attributes to get the better of us, we only fuel what is sinful and not what is good.

Secondly, by living according to God’s perfect plan to love our enemies, we witness to the world as we show them God’s love lived out in us.

I’m glad that the world is not left to our own direction apart from God. If it were, only those we deemed to be “good” and “righteous” would be allowed to live their lives out in freedom. Only those we chose would see the light of day and feel the warmth of the sun. The rest would be locked away somewhere where nobody else would want to be. They would yearn for something else but they wouldn’t get a chance to experience it.

But while we are on earth, our God is not like that. He even provides for the unrighteous and the undeserving in our eyes, even our enemies. Even to those who deny Him, he gives out of His love for them and not out of hate. God shows love to the undeserving as well as the deserving. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we would realize that each one of us fits perfectly into the class of the undeserving and the unrighteous. Yet God continues to fill us with His grace. He continues to provide for our every need and He continues to love us with a love we could never comprehend.

Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life.” Even when we were still enemies of God, He still sent His only Son to die a horrifying death so that we could be inheritors of His kingdom. Even in our sin, Christ shares with us His body and blood so that we might be forgiven over and over again. This is not a love that one can properly comprehend because it is a love that only God can provide.

Yet we are asked to emulate this love in everything we do, even as we deal with our enemies. If we can reflect even a portion of God’s love to others, we become walking billboards telling the world that they can share in the love that we are so blessed to know. As we deal with others in Christian love, we tell even the undeserving and defiled that God loves them to, and that alone can change a life forever.

But if we truly want to show a Godly love we must live a life of love that is shown in all we do and say. Jay Leno told of a time he found himself behind a car at a stoplight whose bumper sticker read, “Honk if you love Jesus.” Jay says he liked it so he gave his horn a light tap, and the guy in front stuck his head out the window and shouted, “The light’s still red moron.”

People know if we truly believe what we preach because they can see if we back up those words by our actions. We serve God best when we deal with other’s with the love that He so graciously gives us. The guy in the car was advertising God’s love but his actions advertised something completely different.

Finally, we need to learn to love our enemies because God wants us to grow in Christian maturity. Until we learn to love our enemies, our Christian growth is not complete. If we take the route of revenge and hatred, it means that our Christian growth still has a very long way to go to be what God would have us to be. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

You might remember that last week I spoke about our commitment towards Christ and that He expects nothing less than 100% of all we have to give. As Christians, this is what we are to constantly strive for, and as we do, we grow in faith to the place that God has called us all to be.

So now you’re telling us we have to be perfect? Yes, that is what I am saying. I also understand that there is no way we can achieve this apart from the grace and mercy which God provides. Our goal, every day, is to strive towards perfection.

The Greek word for perfection in Matthew 5 is “Telios” which can also be translated “mature.” When God asked us to strive towards perfection, He is asking us to mature in our faith to a point where we depend only on Him. “Telios” means to be “grown up,” so Matthew might be translated “Be grown up, therefore, as your heavenly father is grown up.”

But we stubbornly hold on to hatred and resentment when it comes to our dealings with the enemy. We defy God’s command to grow up and learn to love our enemy. This is serious because God tells us that if we can’t love others, we have a big problem. 1 John 4:20, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So let’s recap, we are called to love our enemies because it helps us to overcome our sinful nature and it shows the love of God to a world that desperately needs love and it helps us to mature into the Christians we are called to be.

When Jesus Came to earth, He came with an agenda. In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul tells Timothy that Jesus came to save sinners. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter tells us that Jesus came so that we might come to God in repentance, not wanting anyone to suffer the consequences of their sin. God would have that all would be saved, even those who deny him and treat Him with disrespect and hatred. That’s why Jesus came to die.

The only thing that God wishes us to hate is sin, yet He wants us to love those who have sinned against us. Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend.” Showing love towards our enemies is the armor God has given us to contend with those who would be counted as our adversaries. Love is the weapon of choice for God and it is our greatest weapon as we face a world of sin. Because, when we pray for our enemies, when we feed them and give them something to drink, and when we show the love of Christ towards them, God can work in their hearts to bring them to the truth.

Think about it, your enemy is your enemy because he thinks you’re wrong and he is right. So why give him even more reason to believe that? We see our curses and gossip as giving our enemy what they deserve, but in the process we have done nothing to bring them to the place where love reigns supreme.

When you show nothing but the love of Christ, it naturally changes the rules of engagement. By doing this you have thrown your enemy off balance so that God can bring them to their knees before the throne. He wants even our enemies to know the grace and hope we get from Him and He wants them to know what we have come to know, that God is the source of all that is good and right in this world.

God sent His only Son so that all would be saved, even those who curse Him today. It is up to us to show that love to a broken world so that others might come to know what we have already have come to understand.

That we have a God of hope and love, willing to do what it takes to bring us to eternal life with Him.

He has given us the means, He has offered us a forgiveness that wipes the slate of sin clean through the lens of His Son. But this message of forgiveness and redemption out of love needs to be communicated in all we say and do, even to those we count as enemies. May the Holy Spirit guide us to Christian maturity, and may the love of God transform our lives and the lives of those who do not yet know Him. Amen