“You have been taught to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you—in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us—good and evil, kind and cruel.” ~Matthew 5:43-44 (The Voice)
I get irritated with people, and groups, like Kim Davis—people who take a few verses out of the Bible and use it to promote their own theory or their own desires without taking into account the whole of scripture to see what it tells us about God. Reading only a few verses to get an understanding of God will totally get us off track. I get mad at hateful things being done to each other in the name of God. I’m not going to list any of them because you probably have your own list and I would be mad at them, too. I get downright irate with the press who report and sensationalize such incidents that helps give Christians a bad name and turns people away from God. Some people say, “I can’t believe in a God who does, condones or orders this kind of behavior.” Well, “I can’t either.” I have heard it said that God needs a new PR department, and yes, he does.
In the middle of my latest fuming, God breaks in, “Feeling a bit judgmental today are you?” (Deep breath required) I hear and stand convicted. Is their sin of judging others worse than my own in judging them? “You without sin cast the first stone” Jesus says. “Pray for your enemies,” and, I insert, those we perceive to be our enemies. My prayer list grows long. In my judgement of others, which tells me more about myself than it does about them, I have to ask, “How am I keeping people away from God? Would people be attracted to and want to follow Jesus, the One that I say I know, by watching and listening to me?”
When I worked in prison ministry, we had a sort of motto—“Listen, Listen. Love, Love.” That was what we were called to do there, and most likely still are in our everyday lives. Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people you have no time to love them.” Many of those I find myself judging are doing the best they know. They may be judging others based on the God they have come to understand. The Eleventh Step of AA’s Twelve Steps says, [We] “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” How sad it is when we understand God to be a vengeful, punishing God. Do I ever contribute to that misunderstanding? I pray not.
Is it possible for us to listen to the fear that resides underneath a person’s behavior? Can we (I) listen and love without judging? Do I show the God of Love to others—the One in whom I say I believe. Jesus loves all of us. He loves those that we don’t love and those we don’t want to love. Jesus loves them. He loves you, each and every one of you—including me (are you ready for it?) and there is nothing at all that you can do about it.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing, Jesus said from the cross.” Forgive me, also, Lord of Love; there are many times I don’t know what I’m doing, either.
Grace and Peace – Donna