Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/10/09

The Prophet Jonah, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, 1471-1484

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Matthew 5:43-55

It’s a hard lesson to learn. We look around the world and we see those who persecute the innocent, who rob life away from the weak, who make slaves and prisoners of those around them for no other reason than their own greed and arrogance, their own self righteousness, believing they are so much more important, they are so much more superior to others around them that they can do as they will, that they can do as they want with no accountability or responsibility for their actions. They work all sorts of unrighteousness and wickedness in the world as they bring pain and suffering, anguish and agony in all that they do and all that they are.

There is so much darkness in what they bring that it’s hard to understand why it would be that we are to love them, that we are to bless them and do good unto them. It is hard to imagine why it would be that Christ would tell unto us to pray for them in our lives. They seem so turned to their evil ways, to the sorrow that they bring that it occurs to us that our efforts, they are probably just wasted by doing that. They have set themselves on their own path, their own course and we believe that there is little that is going to change that or bring it to an end as they prey on the lives of the strong and the weak, the good and the bad with no thought or consideration as to who they are or the life that they had.

Why should we bother wasting our prayers on them then? Why should we bother wasting our good will on them when the truth is that we have a hard time believing that they will turn from their wicked ways?

Why then would Christ teach us this lesson? Why would he offer these words of instruction unto us amidst our lives as we look around and see those who are more than willing to set the world ablaze amidst chaos and hurt as the pain they inflict comes to bear on the lives of all those whom they touch? Aren’t there better things that we could pray for, better things that we can do with our time and our energy, our efforts and our strength?

No, there really isn’t.

There are miracles that occur in the love of the Lord, miracles that occur by the hand of the Lord that defy logic and reason as they work their way through this world and in this world. Amidst them is the truth of God’s understanding that tells us that no matter how far gone it may seem that a person is in their own path or their own wickedness there is still time and a chance that they will come to a sincere repentance in their heart for the evils of their transgressions. Consider the lesson of Jonah taught by the Lord about that wicked city Nineveh.

They had given in to their own unrighteousness, their own evil ways as they practiced all sorts of wicked things amidst their lives. So much so did they sin in their own iniquity that they were to incur the wrath of the Lord as He planned to bring destruction upon them. Yet it would not come. As the people there heard the message of Jonah they turned from their own ways. The Spirit of the Lord moved through them in the most significant of ways and with a contrite heart they looked upon God and sought His mercy as they repented of their wickedness. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:10)

Though we may not understand how God works in the lives of people or how He moves in their souls and their spirits, we know that He does. When we are told to love our enemies, even those who persecute and oppress, those who work such evil, bringing such darkness with their hands, that we pray for them, we are to pray that they turn from their wicked ways that they may come to a true and sincere repentance. Yes, it would be easier to just pray for their destruction and death, that they may be wiped from this earth that no longer would they be able to inflict themselves on others. Yet, by doing that we forsake the love of God and we become bitter, holding our own malice and hatred in our own heart, allowing for them to take us captive amidst our own spiritual life, giving them a grim power over us.

Instead though we are called to trust the Lord, to trust in His plan and His will, to know that even when we cannot see it or even when it seems like He is far distant from the cries and the longings of the afflicted that He will move through this world and in this world for the cause of good and the cause of righteousness. As our prayers are then lifted to Him we know that He shall, as has been promised, hear them and will work His will amidst this temporal existence according to His justice for the cause of His liberty.

Therefore pray for our enemies, for those who would take prisoners and hostages, captives and slaves, knowing that there is no dark or hidden place where they can keep themselves and their souls from the Lord. Use your strength and your power to proclaim a message of God’s law and Christ’s gospel to point to their unrighteousness and their wickedness, to their lack of love to their fellow man and the transcending truth that shall set them free from it that they may come to see that they have not abided in the command of Christ Jesus that we love one another. (John 13:34) This that they may truly see the light of the Lord and that it may cut through their own wickedness and iniquity to bring them to a sincere repentance for their ways that they may come to do good in this world.

Trust that the Lord, He has a plan then in the teachings taught unto us by the Messiah. Yes it may be difficult for us to follow, it may be tough for us to understand, yet that is just because the wisdom of God is perfect and transcends all of the knowledge and enlightenment that we have. It is possible that He can bring good from even the darkest of souls, even the darkest of times. It’s here then that we must believe that He will, placing our hope and our faith squarely on Him in even these, the most trying of times of chaos and pain, trial and tribulation that can inflict itself on the souls of men.

Though the gloomy acts of hate filled men of loathing may surround us pray for them to come to understanding, pray for them to come to repentance that the will of the Lord shall then come to bear in their lives and they forsake all their unrighteousness for the road of divine reconciliation that has been paved through Christ Jesus for their lives. It is then that we shall see the love and the mercy, the compassion and the grace of the Lord come to bear in the lives of these people as they put aside their own wicked ways for a better, stronger path, and the darkness that they bring will finally come to an end.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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