Thursday, October 29, 2009

For enemies and persecutors

Our Lord's commands to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us are in violent opposition to the will of our sinful nature.  We do not want to love our enemies.  Why should we?  They don't love us.  We do not want to do good to those who hate us.  We want to hate them back.  We want them to get what's coming to them, and if we can participate in  making that happen, all the better.  And, pray for those who persecute us?  No way!  We'd much rather curse them and pray for their demise.  The way of the cross is unnatural and painful.  Crucifying the flesh and its desires is torturous.

But, thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do," He prays from the cross.  Suspended on beams of hatred, He loves His enemies, does good to those who hate Him, and prays for His persecutors and executioners.

And now, through the power of the Gospel, those who are brought to faith in the One who loved His enemies unto death are given a New Man, a regenerated spirit, who, in contradiction to the Old Adam, longs to love enemies, do good to haters, and pray for persecutors.  Filled with His love, Christ's disciples are amazingly able to overcome their natural instincts and love their enemies, do good to those who hate them, and pray for their persecutors.  Not perfectly, mind you - not this side of heaven.  For the Old Adam remains in us and vigorously battles the New Man for control of our will.  What we long to do, we often fail to do.  What we long not to do, we often do.  We struggle.  We are conflicted within.  But, that is good, for that inner struggle is indicative of the fact that we have been reborn from above and have saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, our baptismal lives in Christ Jesus are lived out by daily contrition and repentance, that the Old Adam should daily be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that the New Man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.  The result - the amazing result - of this daily baptismal pattern to our lives is that sinners like us, forgiven on account of Christ's perfect life and death in our place, filled by His grace and clothed in His holiness and righteousness, can, and do, pray:
Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us.  Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and may be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. (Lutheran Service Book - Pastoral Care Companion, pp. 532-533)

1 comment:

Megan said...

Very well said... or written, I should say... or type.

Another excellent post to remind us although we may fail everyday, we seek repentence and thank and praise our Lord for the gifts He has given.