Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
In a prayer time that I was leading shortly after September 11, 2001 a six-year-old boy spoke up. “We need to pray for the terrorists!” I answered without thinking. “Pray that they will be caught and killed.”
That incident and the real danger of enemies on our door step plunged me into a serious quandary of how to love them. In Luke chapter 6 Jesus gave us a list of specific applications. And while I need to say these directives are personal rather than political, they should affect every area of a Believer's thinking.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
You have to begin by listening. Are you willing to listen to things Jesus says that go against what you consider common sense? Have you considered what good thing God has arranged for you to do for the person who lies about you or opposes something important that you need to accomplish?
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Desiring God's blessing on someone is a foundation of intercessory prayer. I have several lists of people that I pray for every day as a personal spiritual discipline. And from time to time God impresses me to add someone to one of those lists that I just don't like. I have to pray for God to develop His love in my heart for them as I try to ask Him to bless them.
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”
This may be the most practical and difficult application of loving our enemies. And while the command to turn the other cheek, not to mention the ensuing commands Jesus gives us here, leaves us terribly vulnerable, it meant much more than that to the people who first heard it.
Some years ago I went on a mission trip to what you might call a “kiss culture.” Especially in the churches there, men greeted one another with a kiss on the cheek, often on both cheeks. It did not take us very long to discover that the one receiving the kiss has to turn his cheek. If you did not turn your cheek, you got kissed on the mouth.
We were never comfortable with this custom, but we quickly came to understand the depth of relationship they were expressing. In such a culture turing the other cheek was an offer of relationship. In the case of an enemy, it was a vulnerable offer of reconciliation.
Let me skip down to Luke 6:35,36, a good conclusion to this passage.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Genuinely loving your enemies requires a work of God in your life. We grow in this complicated and humanly impossible discipline as we spend time in His presence. To love like this you must be a child of the Most High. God must plant His spiritual DNA into your heart.