Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Loving Hostile People

Originally posted on March 15, 2009

To love hostile people is something followers of Jesus are called to do, but most of the time it is nearly impossible. Armed with Sunday School lessons and my own strength, I fail miserably. In a particularly difficult moment a cried to Holy Spirit and wisdom flew into my aching soul.
Photo taken by Penywise

A practical outline formed as I pressed into that Blessed Fount: how to overcome resistance, bitterness, rejection and wounding. A how to act as a result of being released into a grace expressing life.

First, I am to love my enemies and pray for them.  If love is action, then it is the foundational attitude. I am to act in kindness in spite of what another does to me. Holding in my thoughts that everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The consequence is a type of blindness that doesn't allow them to see what their actions’ effect is.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."  Following Christ's example leads me to not judge. A friend explained it this way; anytime a conclusion is drawn about someone, that is a judgment. I need to remember, that I do not know their purpose.  It is not my responsibility to interpret their motives. If I draw a conclusion tainted by my own pain and then condemn them, I judge and condemn unfairly.  It is better for me to choose to not get even which is forgiveness and act in love toward them which would be mercy.

Photo taken by ronnieb
With that attitude adjustment in place, a look at myself is in order. Do I have a log in my eye?  Do I lend without an expectation of payback. If I act in kindness toward a person I struggle with, I cannot expect them to reciprocate. Remembering that my inheritance is in Father, He will pay me back. Acting in love towards those who love me in return is no challenge at all. 

This does not mean becoming a doormat. In looking at Jesus and how he interacted with the Pharisees; he was always kind, truthful, and extended grace to them. Yet, he did not allow them into His inner circle. There is no need to vulnerable with those whose intent is not healthy for me. I have permission to protect myself. It can look like silence. 

Look at Christ's example: when Jesus was arrested at night and tried with false witnesses, both against Jewish law. When confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus turned their own laws against them in John 18:19-24:

Photo taken by Lebewesen
"Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 

'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.  Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.'  

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. 'Is this the way you answer the high priest?' he demanded. 

'If I said something wrong,' Jesus replied, 'Testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?"

Photo taken by earl53
Jesus knew what was truth.  He knew Father had a plan and chose to obey it at all costs.  Confident that in the end justice would prevail. When faced with injustice, I need to remember the truth Holy Spirit speaks to me. I can turn the other cheek and not respond to their judgments or criticisms. Secure in what God is doing in me.

My response can be praying for them. If there is a practical need, meet it.  When interaction occurs, reply with words of kindness. All the while, letting God work out the justice.

A Mother Life

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