Local news programs tell us “The Charlottesville Clergy Collective has called for over 1,000 religious leaders to show up to represent religious love during the anticipated event.” Churches are coming all the way from New York and New Hampshire to join this resistance to hate. Because they are representing the love of Jesus before the world, I am watching to see what it means in this day to “represent religious love.” (Note this is not “represent Christian love,” but it will probably be assumed as such.) www.nbc29.com/story/36118931/religious-leaders-prepare-for-the-unite-the-right-rally
The question for our brothers and sisters who are coming into town to join local believers in taking a stand against hatred: Will they meet the challenge to turn the other cheek?
Will they meet the challenge to pray for their enemies, for those that spitefully use them?
Will they respond to hatred with that otherworldly response that makes the world hate us even more? Or will they respond as the world responds? An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Hateful words sparking more hateful words. Murder for murder. Evil for evil.
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus takes believers to another level of love.
27) “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28) Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29) And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
32) For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
What I was specifically reading this morning was John 17, part of Jesus’ prayer for the disciples, both present and to come. He tells the Father (vs. 14) “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Jesus further said (vs.15) “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
He was praying, not that evil should pass over us and not touch us, but that in the battle against evil, we do not ourselves become evildoers. We are not of the world, just as Jesus was not of the world. We have an otherworldly word from God, capable of an otherworldly love. The kind of love that meets the challenge to understand that what really has a grip on those who come against us are demonic principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesian 6:12)
It is our challenge to ignore our personal emotions and seek to counter Satan, who strives for mankind’s certain destruction, by praying for those who hate us. by invoking the power of a mighty God to frustrate the plans of the devil. It takes a determined kind of love, an otherworldly love, to pray for the salvation and peace of those who hate you.