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Faith Today: Pray for peace and practise it too
By Reg Toews
Greendale MB Church
We live in a world full of conflict. We see it all over the world in Africa, Ukraine, the Middle East, to name a few. Much of the conflict is based on differing religious views. Even in Jesus’ day there was conflict around politics and religion. Here is what he had to say.
“You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… (Matthew 5:43, 44)
In our western world, we debate how to apply loving our enemies. In a world filled with conflict, which is highly complicated, it is even more difficult.
What did Jesus have in mind when he said these words? I believe he is calling us to live in such a way as to put the interests of others before our own.
Loving our enemy is calling us to place his/her interests first. Some might say that this doesn’t work. However, what would it look like for people to agree to let each other live? Is the beginning of love the willingness to let people exist? We can agree that we have differences of opinion on how things should work but should we agree that every human life is precious?
If we want to start close to home, and I would like you to consider this, what would it mean for you to put the interests of your spouse or children ahead of your own?
Let me suggest that it wouldn’t be to give your children whatever they wanted. Rather you would give them what they need, when they need it.
You would assist them in becoming adults who contribute positively to the world that they live in. This is not handing them everything before they ask. Allowing them to struggle is how they learn.
I have a grandson who didn’t walk until somewhere around 17 months. He was a very compliant, easy-going child. Don’t know where that came from. However, he learned to walk when he wanted to get something and he couldn’t reach it. Did he cry? Yes. Did we all run to give it to him? No. He had to reach out and learn how to walk so that he could achieve something. Would loving him have been to give him everything? No.
Loving our enemies is not about giving them or us everything that we want. Certainly we need to listen and hear what their needs are. Listening well is loving in itself.
I would hope that followers of Jesus are working hard to embrace and live out what it means to love our enemies.
In Canada, it is fairly easy. How are you doing at loving your enemies? In conflict areas of our world it is painfully difficult. Yet many are choosing to love their enemies in the middle of conflict.
Let’s join together to pray for peace in our world and practise it here.
• Reg Toews is lead pastor at Greendale MB Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.