Jesus presents us with spiritual challenges that stretch us. He commands us to do things that are well beyond our strength. He calls us to do that which our fallen hearts find no joy in doing.
Consider this teaching from Jesus:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28 NIV
Our natural self does not want to love our enemy. We do not have a desire to do good toward those who hate us. We naturally want to return a curse for a curse given. And praying for those who mistreat us is about the last thing that would show up on our prayer list.
But these are things that Jesus commanded us to do.
When I counsel with children who come to faith in Christ, I always tell them that being baptized, as a sign of our faith and in obedience to Jesus’ command, is one of the easiest steps they will take in their life of being a Christian. As we can see in the passage above, Jesus calls us to do things that are much more difficult than being immersed in water.
But why do these difficult things? Our enemies are probably not going to get any nicer to us. Those who hate us are not going to suddenly have a change of heart. The ones who have cursed us will most likely continue to curse us. And there is not a high likelihood that praying for those who have mistreated us will force them to act any better toward us.
The answer to the WHY question has nothing to do with changing the hearts of others…it has everything to do with us representing our heavenly Father here on Earth.
To be Christian is to follow Christ, in all that he says and does. We show the world that we belong to God when we reflect the goodness of God to those around us.
We see Jesus loving those who were his enemies….
We love because he first loved us.
1 John. 4:19 NIV
So we love our enemies.
We see Christ doing good for those who were against him…
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NIV
So we forgive and bless those who have harmed us.
We see Jesus blessing those who cursed him…
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Luke 22:47-51 NIV
So we seek the spiritual well being of those who have cursed us.
And we hear Jesus praying for those who mistreated him, even for those who were nailing him to the cross…
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34 NIV
So we pray for those who have injured us.
As we Love, Forgive, Bless, and Pray, especially for those who have hurt us, who have caused us pain, we show ourselves to be children of our Father in Heaven.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:36 NIV
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