“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt 5:43-48, ESV)
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same…But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ” (Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 35-36; ESV)
Who is our enemy? I recently had an argument with someone I am not that close to. Afterwards, I sent an email to a close friend and explained the situation to him. Then I said, “Sometimes it is really hard to love your enemies!” I said that out of frustration. This person I had argued with is not my enemy.
When I truly think about it, I have no “enemies”, personally. I live in a country that is engaged in a “War on Terror”. We are constantly fighting with the Taliban, and most recently, Isis. I would say that both of these groups are enemies, and the scriptures tell us to “Love them”, and to “Pray for them.” This is hard to do when the evening news shows a U.S. citizen bound and kneeling down. Standing next to him is a member of Isis, who tells the camera that this prisoner will be executed. We know he is serious as several people have already been beheaded. It is easy to pray for the safety of the prisoner, but to pray for his captor? That is hard to do! The Bible tells us that it is easy to love those who love us. Then it says that even the sinners do that. Rather, we are to love our enemies!
We have been called to holiness and righteousness. These qualities come from Jesus. We can’t be holy or righteous on our own account. We must take on the attributes of Christ. He showed love to His captors even as they executed Him. If He does that, then we should love the Taliban and Isis, even as they execute our citizens.
I’m not saying that we should fly over to Syria, go find an Isis member, run to him with open arms and declare our undying love. The scriptures tell us how we are to love them. It says to pray for them. I wonder what would happen if members of Taliban and Isis started committing their lives to Jesus? I wonder how these people would be accepted by the Christian community around the world? Some people may believe this is a moot point. Some people believe that these people would never accept Jesus, and further, that Jesus would not accept them.
In 1992, Former Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega, a federal prisoner, was baptized, having confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. His testimony included the following words, “He [Jesus] is the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins, who arose from the grave and is at the right hand of God the Father and who above all things He is my Savior, and has mercy on me, a sinner.” Christ died on the cross to save everyone. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21, ESV). “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13, ESV).
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would invade Syria and Iraq, hearts would be convicted, and people would turn to Jesus. Is anyone willing to pray that prayer with me? Do we want to see the Taliban and Isis get saved, or to burn in hell like they deserve? By the way, we all deserve to burn in hell, but thank God for the saving grace of Jesus!