why should we pray for our enemies
I am saddened by the tendency of some Christians to call for the sending of missiles upon our nationБs enemies more than to pray for the sending of missionaries to the hardest places. Certainly, the Islamic State is a horrific evil and must be stopped. The destruction it is bringing on innocent life and human civilization is heartbreaking and should fill us with righteous indignation. Likely, it will take the international community to defeat the Islamic State, and it will almost certainly mean military conflict. God has given human government to execute justice upon the ungodly (Romans 13:3Б4). There is Бa time for war, and a time for peaceБ (Ecclesiastes 3:8). We live in a war-torn time, and that should sadden us. Most Christians believe that there is such a thing as Бjust war. Б But even just war is tragic (a sign of sinБs destructive power in the world) that grieves God and must not be called for in a cavalier manner. I am grieved that some influential pastors and Christian leaders eagerly call for the bombing of regions that will inevitably lead to the destruction of human life (innocent image-bearers who suffer as collateral damage), and do so without tears and a broken heart. So what are we to do as Christians Б not first as Americans, but first as followers of Jesus? Much more can be said about these complex issues, but here are three simple, biblical calls to the body of Christ. 1) Pray for our enemies and desire their salvation. As Christians, we need to renounce the spirit of Jonah who wanted the destruction of GodБs merciless enemies and hated the thought of those enemies receiving mercy from God.
But God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and desires that all people come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). If that is GodБs heart, should it not be ours? Should we desire the destruction of the wicked? Death to all of GodБs enemies? Our call is to follow the command and example of Jesus who told us to love our enemies and pray for them, and who himself laid his life down for his enemies, even praying for their forgiveness as they killed him. Again, if we are calling for missiles, but not praying for missionaries, we have lost touch with the heart of God. 2) Pray and work for justice, the overthrow of evil, and the coming of GodБs kingdom. Christians pray that evil in all forms would be subdued and vanquished, beginning in our own hearts and then beyond. Pray that our nationБs leaders and other international leaders would have wisdom in executing their God-given role to administer justice in the earth. Pray that God would thwart the plans of the wicked, confound the counsel of the ungodly, and make successful those plans that are in line with his purposes. As we pray, we know that ultimately complete peace and justice are a world away, in the new heavens and new earth. Yet this peace and justice are present now in the people of God. We are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) who live justly and spread his peace, not with the sword of man, but the sword of Spirit, the gospel (Ephesians 6:17). So while we preach and serve, we pray, БCome, Lord Jesus!
3) Seek to befriend Muslim neighbors for the sake of Christ. We do not need to fear Muslims, but love them, befriend them, and seek to share the good news of Jesus with them. God is a gathering God who is bringing men and women from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue into his family. He is bringing the nations to our doorstep now to have open access to the gospel that they did not have in their native homes. Many of our Muslim neighbors are future brothers and sisters whom God will save and bring into his house through faith in Jesus. We should long for this and work toward it. In all of this, may God preserve our unity with one another. We are not Americans first, but Christians first. We belong to a kingdom that is not of this world Б a kingdom with no boundaries or borders. We may disagree on policy or diplomacy, but infinitely more important is that we agree on Jesus, his rule, and his great love for his people and for this world. We donБt have to be divided by our lesser loyalties when we are united by our greatest loyalty. As a materialistic society marks its most material time of the year, the preexistence of Christ reminds us of his priority and preciousness above all created things. (article) Was Бthe massacre of the innocentsБ invented by early Christians? If the event is historically real, why are there no other records to corroborate the event? (Ask Pastor John) Have you ever wondered what became of the innkeeper in Bethlehem who let Mary and Joseph have their baby in his barn? (poem and video by John Piper) БLove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Б Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happen to them. You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who knows your heart, and prayer is interceding with God on their behalf. It may be for their conversion. It may be for their repentance. It may be that they would be awakened to the enmity in their hearts. It may be that they will be stopped in their downward spiral of sin, even if it takes disease or calamity to do it. But the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. БFather, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Б (Luke 23:34) Falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, БLord, do not hold this sin against them! Б (Acts 7:60) Jesus is calling us not just to do good things for our enemy, like greeting them and helping supply their needs (Matthew 5:47); he is also calling us to desire their best, and to express those desires in prayers, even when the enemy is nowhere around. Our hearts should desire their salvation and desire their presence in heaven with us and desire their eternal happiness. May God give us grace to pray like the apostle Paul for the Jewish people, many of whom made life very hard for Paul: My heartБs desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
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