God

Love Your Enemies

As of today, the riots and protests have calmed down. There are no images of burning cities on cable news, there has been no high profile atrocity in recent weeks, and it’s been a few days since the last act of mass violence against the innocent. Yet, the underlying divide that fuels that unrest remains.

Our nation is deeply divided. Deep divisions in philosophy, religion, world view, and visions for the future have always existed. America was built upon a foundation of faultlines, which, at times, have resulted in political earthquakes of epic proportions.

We’ve seen those faultlines erupt in recent years, and our society is exhausted.

The challenge for our nation is how to heal those faultlines. How can you bring the nation together under one unifying concept when our views, desires and convictions are so different?

In times past, we sought to persuade each other to join our side. When that didn’t work, we learned to live together while ignoring or downplaying our differences. This is why for decades, the ethic was to never discuss religion or politics.

However, in recent years, the ethic has arisen that silence is consent, and tolerating your opponents equates endorsing them. Endorsing them therefore equates endorsing evil. Therefore, we must stand and defeat our enemies whenever they surface.

And thus births the new American society, a society in which dissention is opposition and opposition is evil, therefore those of a different mindset are our enemies, and our enemies are to be defeated.

This is evident in the political sphere, where supporters of political opponents (not the candidates, but the supporters of those candidates) are branded as deplorable, cancers, communists, fascist, and whatever other dehumanizing term we can find.

In our political sphere, candidates run on platforms, not of a future aspiration of prosperity for the country, but on the eradication of the supporters of the opposing candidates. And instead of shunning that candidate and ending his political career, crowds celebrate and support him.

How can we survive if we continue down this road?

In the 1960s, our country was in a similar position, to the point that Lyndon B. Johnson declined to seek reelection in hopes of helping the country heal.

However, two voices emerged that brought the country healing. The first, being Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s creed of reconciliation, driven by the concept of love for one’s enemies, led a positive transformation in our nation. The second was the collective voice of Chuck Smith and Lonnie Free, who led a spiritual revival across the nation with the message of the Gospel.

Dr. King’s movement grew out of a belief articulated in a sermon he preached called, “Love Your Enemies.” In it, Dr. King discussed the concept of Agape love, how it was selfless, self-reflective, and how it had a redemptive quality that could reconcile enemies.

Smith and Free led a movement of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than reconciliation over earthly differences, the Gospel preached by Smith and Free led people to true redemption, eternal life, and complete healing inside and out.

The same scriptures which have healed our nation before are just as true today as they ever were, and they are more needed today than ever.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Matthew 5:44

At one time, we were all enemies to God. Yet He loved us, and gave His Son to die for our sins so that we could be redeemed and reconciled to Him. Being reconciled to Him, we can be reconciled to each other, and find healing in our divisions.

And by emulating God as we love each other, we can not only find peace in our lives, but we can find healing altogether. Christ promises that this will be rewarded.

So today, as you watch the news and see the angry posts on social media, do not be overtaken by the flesh and the sin nature, and succumb to anger. Instead, remember your redemption, and the love God gave you, and love your enemies, praying for their redemption and healing, because it is out of brokenness in their own personal darkness that they rage.

As you do this, you contribute to our national healing. If enough of us do this, we will realize that healing as a society.

The Power of Christ

After instituting the Lord’s Supper, and preparing His disciples for His crucifixion, our Lord Jesus lifted up His eyes to our Heavenly Father and began to pray for us. In this prayer, often called the High Priestly Prayer of Christ, or the great intercessory prayer, our Lord prayed that we would be sanctified, protected, and that we would be able to carry our testimonies throughout the world.

True to the form He taught us in the Model Prayer, Christ praised God for all that He had done. In John 17:2, Jesus praised God for the power He gave, saying, “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”

The power Christ referred to is the authority God gave Him. In fully realizing the beauty of His words, let’s take a closer look at the power God gave.

First, the power (authority) all belongs to God. Psalm 24:1-4 says, ” The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”

God has all the power in the world because He created the world. He made it, He owns it, He makes the rules.

He spoke the world into existence. He formed man from the dust of the ground. He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life so that we became living souls. He is the source of our life, the source of our consciousness, the source of our creativity, dreams, hope and aspirations. These are all attributes of Him, and characteristics of the life that He has given us.

Therefore, it follows that we actually belong to Him, and that He is in control.

Man’s first act after being created was to rebel against God. Satan tempted Eve in the garden, saying that in the day she disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she and Adam would be as gods. Adam and Eve’s sin of eating the fruit went beyond simple disobedience, it was an all-out rebellion against God’s authority in their lives.

They sought to dethrone God so that they could do as they please. It was a sin similar to Lucifer’s rebellion that led to His ejection from Heaven.

Yet, God, in His power and grace did not expel man the way He did Lucifer and the angels who rebelled. Instead, He gave His only begotten Son in order to redeem man, and create a way for man to ascend into His Holy Hill and stand in His Holy Place.

God’s power and wisdom are infinite, which is why God says His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). That’s why, regardless of how hard it may be to understand what God is doing, it behooves us to trust Him and His plan.

It is that great power and authority that God gave to Jesus. Jesus prayed in John 17:2, “As thou hast given Him power over all flesh.” God has infinite authority over us all, and He gave that authority to Christ.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.” That word power means authority. Jesus has all authority over all who live. It is He who will judge us, and He who will hold us accountable for whether we believed, and it is He who will decide whether we enter Heaven.

Jesus was crystal clear in His teachings. Those who believe will be saved, and those who believe will be welcomed into the Kingdom. On that note, we take a look at the power (authority) that He gave us.

In John 1:12, scripture says “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

To those who believe, that is, those who receive Him, Christ gave the power (authority) to become the sons of God. To those who believe, Christ gave the right to become the sons of God. This is an unalienable right endowed upon us by our creator, and our Lord.

Have you exercised this right? Have you realized this right? Do you know Christ as your Savior?

Furthermore, Christ gave us the authority to further the Kingdom on Earth. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, ” All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

After proclaiming that God had given Christ all the power (authority) in Heaven and Earth, He commanded us by that authority to make disciples, to baptize the believers, and to teach the disciples all that He taught us. We are to spread His Gospel. Not only are we directed to go, we have been given the authority of the Lord to do so.

Given the power and authority of God, given to Christ and extended to us, where should we place our faith, and what should the focus of our days be?