Most of us are pretty aware of the 10 commandments, and even try really hard to keep them all to the best of our abilities. But what about all of the other commandments God gives us in the Old Testament? What about the ones Jesus gives us in the New Testament?
In this area, many of us struggle sometimes–either because we don’t know what they all are, or simply because they are really, really, hard.
Right now we face a time of open persecution of Christians all over the world. Every day Christians are being burned, crucified, and beheaded simply for being a follower of Jesus Christ.
In our western world, we fervently hope and pray that their persecution would end–and that they would be strong and brave in the midst of it. But Jesus asks more of us.
Jesus gives us the following instructions,
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44
The word “persecute” does not merely mean those who don’t like Jesus, those who don’t like Christians, or even those who hate Christians and aren’t nice to them. Persecution is
The people who are doing the torturing and murdering of these people–are the very people Jesus bids us to love and pray for.
This is hard. This, I struggle with at times–many, many times.
I don’t want to love people torturing, enslaving, raping, and killing Christians. But I am called to.
The first part for me is praying for my own heart. Jesus, give me the grace to love others that way you have called me to.
It is only after I have asked for God to transform my wicked heart that I can love the person. Only with God’s generous surgery on my heart am I able to separate the sin from the sinner. Love the sinner He bids me. And then, pray for that sinner.
It’s important to note, He is not telling me to pray that all their wishes would come true, or that they would live long and happy lives. Once we realize this, it makes it a little bit easier to focus on what our prayers should be about.
Sometimes, we should pray that our enemies would indeed come to a place of desperation–a desperation so deep that they would be able to fully realize they are serving a false god, and that their plans will not work out for them in the end. It is through salvation in Jesus Christ alone that our enemies will be blessed.
When you hear of persecuted Christians around the world, are you praying for them?
Are you praying for their persecutors? If you are not, please do. Pray that the Lord would guide them into whatever situation is necessary for them to be broken to a point of total honesty, and realize that there is only one King, and only one means of salvation–that of the blood of Jesus Christ. Pray that there would be Christians in their lives bold enough to present the gospel to them.
Praying for death or imprisonment of our enemies will not change the situation–only the location. But imagine if our enemies started turning from their sins, repenting, and seeking Jesus as their personal savior–that would change the world.
Do you have difficulty praying for your enemies at times?