I hate you!

Warships are poised in the Black Sea. 150,000 Russian soldiers ring the borders of Ukraine.  Fighter jets and bombers are loaded with death. Presidents gather at tables to strategize.  Will there be war? The world is trembling, so to speak, wondering if the horror of another European war could engulf the world in conflict. My daily prayer is that God will move the hearts of men bent on conquest, that the mighty angels of Heaven would do battle with the demons of death.

I don’t have to look to awful and bloody wars to see the violence that can come from the human heart. Last night I spoke at the funeral of a man shot down on the street, as his family said, “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  His murder seems so senseless. But, violence usually is.

The early chapters of the Scripture tell a story of human violence and reveals that callous excuse that kings, presidents, and gunmen have used for centuries to excuse killing. “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied.  “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:1-9, NIV)

Christian, we are our brother’s keeper!  Part of our function as ‘salt and light’ in this world is to serve as seekers of peace, to strive always to build bridges and resolve conflict. Our responsibility is to go past avoiding be one of the ‘haters’ to engage in the work of reconciliation. Disciples of Christ Jesus, who know peace with God, are to become people of peace who work actively for peace on behalf of others.  Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NIV) 

The mission of peace-making may strike you as impractical, even silly.  “Come on, Jerry, get real. The world is an angry place. What can I do about it?”    We can begin by being committed to peace right where we are. We must deal ruthlessly with the hate in our own heart.  When we find ourselves angrily demeaning another, even in the quiet of our own thoughts, we need to drag that sin before our Lord in confession. Jesus reminds us of an inconvenient truth – “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22, NLT)  The Lord desires a changed heart, that we deal with our angry impulses before they reach our fists or our mouth!

We must challenge hatred when we see it, not with angry displays of power, but with overwhelming goodness.  The wisdom of God guides us. “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”  (Romans 12:17-13:1, NLT)  The Spirit calls us to work actively on behalf of those we might naturally regard as our enemies.

Apathy is just another way to say “I hate you.”
What a challenge.  Oh God, change my heart.

Today, will you join me in that prayer that His ‘kingdom will come, His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven?’ 
Pray, too, that God, the Almighty,  will defeat the work of demons who delight in destruction – starting in our own hearts.

The word from the Word –
“Turn your back on sin; do something good. Embrace peace—don’t let it get away! ” (Psalm 34:14, The Message)
“Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth.” (1 Peter 3:11, The Message)

God and Father, break our stubborn wills. Turn our hearts to You.
Break our hearts with those things that break Your heart.
Secure us in Your goodness and teach us to live in the ‘peace that passes human understanding.’
We pray earnestly that Your Kingdom will come and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Video of this blog at this link)

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Prayer Of St. Francis (Lord Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace)

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace
Lord make me an instrument of Your peace
Of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury pardon
Where there is doubting let me bring Your faith

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there’s despairing let me sow hope
Where there is darkness Your light
Where there is sadness let me bring Your joy

Lord grant that I not seek so much to be consoled
As to console
Nor to be understood as much as to understand
Lord grant that I not seek so much to be loved
As to love others

For it is by giving that we receive
It is by pardoning that we are now pardoned
It is by dying that we are now born again

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace
An instrument of Your peace

St. Francis of Assisi

© Words: Public Domain

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