“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons [and daughters] 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.” —Matthew 5:44, 45
In moments like this one—when there are wars and rumors of war—our world somehow feels both big and small. Thanks to newsfeeds that don’t quit and social tools that never sleep, we share an illusion of clarity and connection while being separated, at times, by thousands of miles.
In the last Sunday Entry, I wrote a bit on how our authority to pray for what’s happening over there (there being the Middle East and beyond) is affected by our willingness to let forgiveness do its work in whatever’s happening in our lives here. As we embrace forgiveness, which is the heart of living prayer, we take on the Father’s nature, and it is only from that place of authority and awareness that we can discern what the moment requires of us in prayer and action.
I love (and sometimes hate) Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:44–45 because they make me uncomfortable in my self-righteousness and limited view of justice. Scripture also tells us to pray for those who do evil, for our battle is not against them, whoever “they” may be, but against the dark cosmic powers at work through them. In other words, God’s creative justice requires that we let our prayers, and not our vitriol or violence, make space for His grace to overcome the disintegrating and destructive power of sin.
As you read this Entry, was there a particular person or situation that came to mind? If Jesus’s words make you uncomfortable, ask yourself, Why is it so hard for me to let God’s transforming justice do its good work in my situation? Could it be that praying, loving, or forgiving “them” feels like you’re just yielding to the injustice?
Yes, you may be broken because of them, but they are blinded by their bondage. There’s a reason, after all, why Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The one who gave his life for them (and us) promises that “love” and “prayer” can help set them free, delivering them (and us) from their terror.
Please understand I am not suggesting that we overlook or tolerate sin. To forgive is to stare down a sin until you see it for what it truly is. Forgiveness isn’t passive or indifferent. Rather, it creates the conditions for compassion, deliverance, and justice.
It would seem that we cannot know what kingdom justice requires of us until we first entrust justice and vengeance to the King and His ways.
Forgiving with you,
P.S. The Words with God book has an entire chapter on forgiveness. I wanted to just share the chapter, but publishers don’t look fondly on such things. You can, however, click here and get the whole book, which offers the other thirteen chapters too. (It’s available via book, eBook, and audiobook.)
P.S. If you missed the last Entry, click here to access it along with any other Sunday Entries you might’ve missed.