(Ask the Pastor is a weekly series that appears in the Northwest Baptist Church Sunday Bulletin. This question and others in this series are submitted from those who attend Northwest Baptist Church)
Question: How are we to love and pray for our enemies? – Bob Holzapfel
Answer: This is a great question that must be answered apart from human emotion. It is not natural for us to love our enemies. Emotionally we desire to retaliate. This is what makes Jesus’ command all the more radical. Jesus told us,‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-44
As followers of Jesus we are expected to live differently. The foundation of Jesus’ command is the heart of the gospel. God commands that we are to treat our enemies the same way He does. Who is God’s enemy? I am. You are. This is The basis for Paul’s argument in Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” God loves His enemies so much that He adopts them as His own family. All we need to do is ask how we have been treated by God to know how we are to love our enemies.
You might say, “My enemy doesn’t deserve my love!” Do we deserve God’s love? There is no condition on which enemy to love and which one to keep hating. We are told to just love and pray. For when we do so we imitate God and obey His command. When we imitate God in this way we are proving our real identity.
But, how should we pray? There are many things we can say, but here are two simple ways to pray. I think our prayers should always be for their salvation. We must pray that the Holy Spirit would draw their hearts to the Father so that they might be born again. The real answer to their evil is not in their behavior modification, but in heart transformation. Secondly, we should pray for their evil to be constrained. We must pray for their evil plans to never come to fruition. We must treat all people the way God treats us.
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