"But to you who are listening I say, 'Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. " Luke 6:27-28, 30-31
After the last few days with reports of mass shootings and reading angry and judgmental words on social media I began to think about how Jesus might handle situations such as these. The words, "Love your enemies" came to mind.
The first question that might come to mind is, "How can I do that?" especially if you are someone who has lost a loved one to a violent act. It's my thought as well And then I thought of how Jesus responded when he was beaten, spat upon, nailed to cross. He did not respond with anger, hate or by seeking revenge. No, on the cross as He hung there dying he said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34 (NIV)
I am not condoning what has been done I would never do that. It is heartbreaking and horrifying! My heart and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones in such a violent way. There are no words I could ever say to make it better for them. I know though that when we weep, Jesus weeps. When we grieve, Jesus grieves. My prayer is for Jesus to wrap his arms around each of you to comfort you and hold you in these days to come.
For myself, if I had lost my son, granddaughters, brother, sister, I would have a very hard time loving the person who had taken them away from me. I am human. I would want them to pay for what they had done. I would be angry, distraught and wanting them to suffer the way my loved ones suffered. I admit that.
Then the question is posed to my heart, "If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and He resides within you, how would He respond?" Wow, this hits me deep in my soul. For on the one hand I would want the person who had done this to pay and on the other hand I would feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for that person, that person's family. Pray for them? How can I? My heart is broken?
Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not promised to be an easy journey. It is downright difficult at times. In those difficult times rest in the knowledge that Jesus walks through this fire with you. He does not leave you alone. He has been where you are right now and He understands. He will lead you through the fire of grief and loss into the cooling and healing waters of His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Should someone who kills another face consequences for their actions? Absolutely. That is not the issue here though. The issue is how are we to respond as a follower of Jesus Christ? With angry words and pointing fingers? Or are we called to show love to those who are suffering as well as to the one who has caused the suffering? I believe this is the case. It's not easy and it doesn't happen overnight. Only Jesus can be the one to soften our hearts and give us the ability to do as He has done and say, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
I am praying and seeking to follow Him through all the fires of life. Will I always get it right? No. But every time I choose to follow Jesus' way instead of my own I get a little closer to living free in Him.
Praying many blessings over each of you this day and the days to come.