Religion of Sunday, 10 February 2013
Source: Richard Obeng Mensah
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 – Matthew 5:45 (NKJV).
Real Christianity is seemingly full of paradoxes. Christianity for instance forbids a) swearing of oath to state the truth of a matter and b) resisting an evil person. The reasons being that swearing an oath does not guarantee honesty, and that it is the Devil that should be resisted, never an evil person! Even more paradoxical (obviously to the standards of this fallen world) is this statement: “…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”. Probably, these apparent paradoxes and others in Christianity have fueled the deception that the Bible is contradictory and that Christianity is a portrait of absurdity. This deception is very unfortunate! Nevertheless, these so-called paradoxes are the hallmarks of every real Christian, and they test our maturity in Christ.
Love is always expressive. To love your enemies and persecutors therefore demands that you bless and do good to them. These include being kind-hearted towards them, lending them money upon their request, satisfying their hunger by feeding them, quenching their thirst; if they are within our power. We are thus to love our enemies and persecutors as ourselves. This principle determines God’s attitudes towards us. The truth is that God mostly deals with us according to the way we deal with our neighbours, enemies and persecutors inclusive. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” – Mathew 6:14-15. God acts justly in all things and always! He punishes evil and rewards righteousness. Whatever we do for or against our enemies and persecutors automatically attracts the justice of God.
Real Christians pray for their persecutors. Praying for (not against) your enemies and persecutors evince that you have forgiven them. We are to pray for their salvation. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. God thus expects us to demonstrate His love towards sinners so that they will be drawn to Him. It has been said that nothing can withstand sustained love (prayer). True! Love is thus your greatest weapon to winning your enemies and persecutors to Christ. For Augustine, “One loving spirit sets another on fire”. Proverbs 25:21-22 better illustrates this truth: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you”. The clause “heap coals of fire on his head” denotes surprising your enemy with goodness, a generosity that springs from a kind heart. God greatly rewards any person who responds to her enemies with goodness.
It takes supernatural strength to love your enemies and persecutors. Supernatural love causes us to love our neighbours whoever they are, and in defending their lives and property no matter how opposed they are to the Christian faith. Ian Barclay wrote, “Supernatural love has…the ability to love the unlovely and the unattractive. We see this quality in the way God loved us, because he loved us while we were still his enemies, while we were physically, spiritually, and morally unattractive to him”. Supernatural love is of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if you find it difficult to love your enemies and persecutors then you have probably not yielded to Him fully. Repent!
Richard Obeng Mensah, author of Persecutions are Promotions. Email: email@example.com. Blog: www.richard-obeng-mensah.blogspot.com