There are very few I know of who take Jesus’ instruction seriously and practice Matthew 5:44; “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Those who have obeyed this instruction witness God taking their obedience and using it to powerfully change the hearts of enemies so they become lovers of God.
Think for a moment of the Apostle Paul. If anyone had a basis to hate his enemies, Paul did. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one” (2 Corinthians 11:24). This treatment brought anyone just short of death, and this happened five times to Paul! Later as he pulls back the curtain of his soul, he writes about the Jews and calls them his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). They were the ones inflicting the pain on Paul.
Jesus foretold of this persecution in Matthew 23:34; “and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town.”
What was Paul’s attitude after all the horrendous treatment he suffered from his own people? “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1). Is this our heart as we hear and see persecution around the globe or right next door? The power of the Spirit of reconciliation poured out of Paul’s life everywhere he went.
Are you an ambassador of reconciliation even to your enemies? It is not you they hate and mock; it’s the Christ that shines through your life. So be like Christ, we must appeal to them to be reconciled to God through the power of Christ’s death for them.
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