You’ve probably heard of the pastor in Florida who was planning to burn Korans on 9/11. Or the Afghans who are burning tires in protest of our protests. On any given day, you can pick up a newspaper and read of a protest or a picket or a rally against for for any number of things. Here’s my idea of a protest: love.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (Matthew 5:43-48).
I’m not talking about feel-good warm and fuzzy love, or flowers and candy romantic love. I am talking about Love that changed the world. Love that caused Jesus to lay down His life for His enemies. I’m talking about turning the other cheek when someone strikes you. By the way, I learned from someone that in Roman culture, it was considered shameful to strike someone with either your left hand or the back of your right hand. So, turning your cheek is saying in fact, “You will either have to shame yourself or back down.” It is a non-violent protest. It means that my love is stronger than your hate.
I’m talking about when someone asks for your shirt, you give him your coat as well. When some forces you to do something you don’t like, not only do that thing, but go beyond what he is asking and go the extra mile. I’m talking a lifestyle of generosity. Giving your life away every single day. Dying to your rights and coming alive to the Kingdom of God. So love your enemies and pray for them. Pray that God’s love would change them into allies. Remember that God’s blessings falls on us all, regardless of whether we are good or bad or ugly. And without the grace of God, we are all ugly and wicked. All of us.
Lord, show me one practical way I can live out Your love toward my enemy. Let Your love conquer my hate, and Your grace overwhelm my pettiness. May I be Jesus not just toward those I think deserve it, but to everyone, especially the undeserving, because I was once undeserving, too.
As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.