September from the Pastor

From Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” we read these challenging words: “43 “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Now, we know these words and we agree with them of course……until we think about actual people who have hurt us or our friends or our families. We might still be willing to “pray” for those who persecute us, but more of the “send down fire from heaven Oh Lord” type of prayer, right?
But how do we do it and be genuine? How do I authentically pray for and love those who would prefer to hurt me? Is Jesus suggesting we go and hug a jihadist? No. Part of the problem is our understanding of the word Love. Biblically and for the most part historically “Love” and “Affection” are not the same at all. Affection is a feeling you have for a person and is wonderful, but Love is a choice and a verb; it is something you choose to do despite how you might feel about it.
So, loving someone who hates you means choosing to pray for their best interests, protect them, and the biggie – forgive them. It does not mean you must generate false feelings of affection, that is a lie and insulting to them. In my experience choosing to love and forgive someone often leads to also liking them, but it is not required.
When I was in college I had a guy who worked in the same lab as me who constantly picked on and berated me for being a Christian. I chose to for-give him and not retaliate. One day I overheard his father was diagnosed with cancer and I went up to him and let him know that I would be pray-ing for his dad and family. The next week he approached me and apolo-gized for always picking on my faith and said he wished he could have faith like that. We became friends.
Loving those who love you is easy, Christ calls us to choose to love people who don’t, it is a divine calling, but worth it.

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