Does the passage of Scripture, Matthew 5, posted below, move you to tears like it does me? JESUS, who died for us, while we were still HIS enemies ("For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,..." Romans 5:10a) commands us to love our enemies in return. It isn't an option. I don't know about you, but that reality, is often overwhelming to me. I can't do it on my own. I have failed so many times on even what I might call simple situations. I have often asked God to give me "love for my enemies" and Jesus will actually answer your prayer, if you really want an answer to that specific character and Christ-like training we receive from the ultimate Trainer and Lord of our lives. Jesus puts you in situations that prepare you for bigger situations in the future. He will put you in situations, where it is absolutely impossible to love your enemies on your own. Corrie Ten Boom, in the story shared below, I believe not only exemplified, but gave us an example to follow on what it actually looks like to come face to face with people we would call our enemies, and how to forgive them. Why should we follow, even her example? She was following after Christ.
Any of us who have participated in street-evangelism, abortuary ministry, witnessing to someone who is hostile to you, people who actually hate you and let you know it, those who slander you and wish to use you, can relate to how much you need to be in prayer and how much you need to ask the Lord Jesus to help you. Our very nature wants to get back at the person. It shows you how much we can't do it our own, for it goes against our nature to do so. What we need is the Nature of God's Son, Jesus, imparted to us. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" and He beckons us to follow Him - to pray for those who persecute us, to love those who hate us and wish to discredit our character. This is a wholly unnatural thing to do. It is impossible apart from the rich indwelling Spirit and the Grace of God. We must be led by the Holy Spirit, into all Truth as we renew our minds by meditating on God, through the Holy Bible, God's Word.
We can not know the compassion that God has for the whole human race in the Sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, nor can we think often on His command for us to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-6), to love our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37), and to love our enemy (Matthew 5:43-48), unless we ask Him, to impart to us this knowledge, unless we are reading from His Love letters to us, unless we look to Jesus "the Author and Finisher of our faith" and unless we begin to pray for our enemies...even when we may not want to. We will not be able to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, unless we Look past this world and into Eternity, to the God of Love and ask Him, to fill us with His Love that He has for these people. We must come to know the glory of Jesus as the Son of God, the heir and co-ruler with the Father to do this, and realize that we are as much an enemy, apart from Christ Jesus, without His precious blood covering us, as even the abortionist down the street. Only then, and through prayer, can we truly love our enemies as Christ loved us. Why is loving our enemies so vitally important and a command in Christianity? Because, for one, we are to be conformed and are conforming to the Image of Jesus. Jesus loved His enemies; so must we.
“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, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Corrie Ten Boom Story on Forgiving and Loving your Enemies
“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.
“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.
“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!
[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]
“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’
“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”
(excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom. Reprinted by permission from Guideposts Magazine. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts Associates, Inc., Carmel, New York 10512>).
Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Posted below is "Loving Your Enemies" - MLK Sermon
Conclusion of the following audio recording of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s November 17, 1957 sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama. Using Matthew 5 as his text, King emphasizes that “hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. . . The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. . . . and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of Love.”
I feel like Corrie Ten Boom, and may we all share in what MLK says about the Love of Christ in us, and in doing so may we follow in Christ Jesus' example of what it means to truly Love our enemies, while not neglecting to speak the Truth in Love. Truth without Love is hatred; love without truth is also hatred and neglecting to love our enemies, is a disgrace to our Lord Jesus Christ. True love is sacrificial, it does not run itself on feelings. As Abolitionists, our battle cry is the love of Christ. And I echo Corrie Ten Boom, "YOU (Lord) supply the feeling" and MLK, when he says, "I would rather die than hate you."
For those who feel weary, wounded, and war torn, may His Lovingkindness be a balm to heal you. May the Holy Spirit bring into fruition, in our lives, the High Calling of Jesus to pray for and love our enemies (Psalm 46).
Loving Your Enemies - MLK
I Have So Much To Learn. We Have So Much To Fight For, And In The Process, May We Never Forget To Love, Forgive, and Intercede on the Behalf of Those Who Would Hate us. Ask the KING of Love to fill you with HIS Love.
May this post find you further encouraged and strengthened, in our Lord and Savior Jesus.