November 28, Sunday

NEW Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI who had served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Love Your Enemies” 

Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Right now, my 12-year-old is dealing with an annoying kid in school.  I wouldn’t call him a bully as much as a nuisance.  Last week, when my son left his computer to take care of something his teacher needed him to do, this boy came over and messed up one of his projects.  A couple of days ago, my son reported that this same kid went around jabbing people with his pencil.  We live in a small town, so I know who this boy is; he is the kid who is often yelling at soccer refs and baseball umps when a call doesn’t go his way.  To be honest, this boy’s behavior pushes my specific buttons; I hate bullying behavior, disregard for other people’s property, disrespectfulness, entitlement, etc.  

As a parent, I try like crazy to kill off these characteristics in my children (and myself), but in this kid, I see them in spades.  Knowing this, it may not be surprising that I told my son, “Son, if you ever feel threatened by this kid, I would not be angry with you if you had to punch him to defend yourself.”  Now again, to be honest, I was kind of hoping that my son would take this as a license to slap this kid across the head to teach him a lesson, whether he actually felt “threatened.”  

Two points that need to be made here: one, I’m a sinful monster and possibly a terrible father; and two, Jesus’ teachings on loving one’s enemies are really difficult aren’t they?  Look, I’ve been a Christian for over 25 years, and as you can see, I still haven’t truly figured it out.  In this instance, my heart’s desire is for someone to teach this kid a lesson, not to love him.  I could have told my son, “If this kid stabs you with a pencil, give him a pen also, and then pray for him”, but this is obviously not the advice I gave.  I’m not going to pretend to know why this child acts as he does, but I do know that he, like the rest of us, needs the love and acceptance of the Savior who died for him.  

How about you?  Is there someone who God wants you to love, but for whatever reason, you have been treating as an enemy?  Perhaps it’s a family member, old friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc.?  I know it feels impossible but remember the Gospel and its power.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross because you were able to treat enemies as beloved friends; in fact, the opposite is true, he died because we all treated friends like enemies.  Even worse, we treated God, our greatest friend, as our enemy.  But instead of slapping us across the face, or taking our shirts, or making us go on a death march, God showed us his great mercy.  Ultimately, we can trust God for all things, and in this case, a better way to live, by loving those who may have wronged us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for treating me as if I were the nicest human being on earth when, in fact, its opposite is true.  As I have been graced in Christ, remind me, strengthen me and demand that I extend that same grace to those who appear not so deserving of it.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  John 16

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