Please note, or remember, that I do not write anything that God hasn't spoken to my heart about, for me personally. There's a lesson for me in everything He tells me, and I just pass that on. I write from experience. I prefer to do that so I have understanding in such matters. I'm not pointing fingers...
I made the above image yesterday, because that was what really stood out before me - what really spoke to my heart at the time. Today, I received this:
Jesus said: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Mt 5:44 NIV)
How hard is that, ay. Even the most loving of us can react in anger towards our loved ones, and often hold a grudge against them for a long time. In fact, I dare say we’ve all been known to make an enemy of at least one person we once claimed to love… How harder is it then to love someone you deem an enemy?
Since asking God for my heart back the other week, I’ve found an ache that often comes with deeper love; a sensation in my heart that feels the heart of the Father when He sees how damned His loved ones are – by those who claim to love Him.
This morning I was listening to Casting Crowns’ song Jesus, Friend of Sinners and, oh, how I ached. I felt God’s heart touch mine and I could see how He mourned for the persecuted, for the broken, for the lost, for those that are being threatened to be left behind… by those who claim to love Him.
As I look upon such things, I know God is calling me, and enabling me (more and more, as I am willing) to love at a greater capacity, and while the lessons come, I must confess that there is at least one in my world I would prefer not to love. Yet, I know God loves that person, no matter where they’re at – just as He loved me when I was yet to allow Him into my world; while I was still a "sinner".
God rescued me from the gutter that was my life, where I had allowed myself to fall. He never rebuked me for allowing my life to take me there. He never did the, “You got what you deserved,” speech, or the angry parent routine. Rather, He covered my shame with love. He removed the brokenness of my heart, soul and life, and gave me life, love and hope.
As time went by, and as much as I could handle at the time, God worked in my heart to heal it of old wounds, adopted attitudes, and festering bitterness. He gave me all that Love desires me to have… and it was/is up to me whether or not I desire/d to take it.
God knew I would struggle with more things in this world. He knew I’d stumble in word and action. He knew I’d fall again. He knew I couldn’t be perfect, no matter how hard I tried. But He never stopped loving me. He never gave up.
In his loving mercy, God gave not only His Son to rescue me, but His Spirit to carry me through the rest of life. He knew I would need HIS Spirit, His heart and strength, in this world. He knew I could not do it all alone. He handed me mercy and grace, encouragement and more. He loved/loves me like no other possibly could. He pursued me, rescued me, and continues to do so with each struggle… and because of all this I am so grateful. I adore Him. Especially now my heart is back and I see even more clearly how He covered me with grace and renewed me, heart and soul, in the depths of His mercy.
Then I read, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and I receive a knowing that not only does God ache for the “fallen” in the exact same way He ached for me, and you, He aches for my enemy; your enemy; our enemies.
Christ died for one and ALL. NOT for the Christian. NOT for the religious. NOT for the one who knows full well how to dot their i’s and cross their t’s and pray with all the right words. He died for ALL… no matter what their nationality or beliefs. And He did so because God LOVES us ALL.
The Bible does not read: For God so loved the chosen few.
It does not read: For God so loved the Christian.
It does not read: For God so loved the people on your team; in your church; in your family; whom you approve of…
It reads: For God so love the WORLD that He gave His one and only Son…
God aches for His children as an adoring mother aches for her lost/kidnapped/unborn/deceased child. He longs for them (for you; for them) with a passion no one could possibly know unless they have loved as deeply as God has loved.
In His love for us, He gave us free will… in our love for ourselves we rebelled against His authority and flaunted our free will in the face of His aching heart. But He did not give up on us...
In His love for us, He made a plan to show us just how great His love for each of us is: He sent Jesus.
In His love for us, and knowing that no soul born in a body as we know them can remain eternally on this earth, knowing Jesus had to leave eventually, He arranged for His Spirit to remain not only with us, but, if we are willing, in us: His heart in ours.
And when we are returned to Him, when we become one with Him – as a man and wife bond as one – and we are close to Him in heart, in Spirit, we then have the ability to know and feel His heart on any issue as He knows ours – if we love Him enough to listen…
And there, in His heart, there is a cry, a pleading, a longing, for each of us to take of the love He has freely given to us, and not only use it for ourselves, and for those we care about, but also for those we claim as our enemy. For God SO loved them, that He gave His Son… He gave His heart… He gave His love… He gives us…
God once impressed upon my heart: The Bible is God's heart on paper. Jesus is God's heart in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is God's heart in us. We are to be God's heart in the world...
Do we forget that GOD IS LOVE? Do we forget that He loved us while we were sinners? Do we forget He showered us not with shame and guilt but with love, mercy and His glory? Do we forget that He has a heart, too...?
God also impressed upon my heart once: "The one you give your heart to has the power to hurt you..." And He gives His heart to us.
Are we paying and praying it forward? Are we taking of the love He gave us and giving it to others? Or are we drinking in His love and spitting it in the face of others...? Are we the good Samaritan... or are we the hypocrite?
I'm not judging. I am so not saying you are guilty of this... I'm just putting it out there because the ache in my heart calls me to... And I am convinced we believers will answer for this one day.
God made a way for us to be in union with Him... His way came in the form of Love... it came in the form of Jesus... It comes in the form of his Spirit... Are we blocking the way to Him for others, by not loving, by not praying... even for our enemy? Do we have the right to block the way of our enemy, to God's heart, when God loves them, too?
Remember, they may be our enemy, but that doesn't mean our hatred is reflective of the way God views them.
Love your God…
Love your neighbour…
Love your enemy…
You may not be able to live with them. You may even struggle to look upon them with kindness in your heart… but God didn’t say feel good about your enemy. He didn’t say invite them into your home. He just said love them – and that does not depend on your emotions. Love is an action, not a statement.
And in praying for them, I seriously do not believe we are to pray, “God, get them!” or “God, look what they did to me! Make them pay!” but something like, “God, as you have forgiven me, enable me to forgive others. As you have loved me, enable me to love others…” and, “God, here’s my heart… please keep it in check; deal with this negativity I feel” even… “and please, [despite what “I” feel] help them… bless them… lead them back to You…”
And watch your heart become more like His...