I have an enemy. You probably do, too. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Jesus and the apostles had enemies. I’ve been dissecting the example of Jesus’ godly response to his enemies. Earlier this week, I blogged about his model described in 1 Peter 2:20-25.
When we’re persecuted, we are to walk in his steps, not retaliating or threatening, but entrusting ourselves to the just Judge.
Anytime a lesson is learned, there must be a test.
Every year we poll the users of the bible-study material I produce for the church. Based on feedback, I make adjustments. From the poll we took this week, I’m happy to find that a large majority are pleased with things just as they are. I’ve reworked the material for eight years, attempting to get to this place.
I also gained some great ideas for simplifying and streamlining, because several people mentioned their desire for a built-in strategy for when their time is limited. Their words sparked an idea. Based on their needs, some revisions now bubble in my head.
It’s affirming to hear what’s working, but the ideas for improvement are even more valuable. Every year, I use the criticism to guide my reworking, hoping to produce even better material.
But this year, I encountered something I’ve never experienced in all my years of writing material for the church. In this anonymous polling, I learned I have an enemy. On the feedback sheet someone told me they never look at the material or use it, because I write it. No helpful input was given, no reasons, just me.
Satan loves this sort of thing. He uses personal attack to steal our joy. Attempting to discourage and destroy, he whispers accusations about our lack of worth. But, in inspiring this sort of attack, he gets two for the price of one. Not only does he harm me, but he harms the one who attacks me. Something eating away at them festers, rather than being dealt with properly.
I don’t know why anyone would be upset with me personally. I don’t know if they object to my writing because I am a woman or because I am myself. Have I offended them in some way? I’m a sinner, so it’s possible. But I have no way of knowing. Though 90% of the feedback was positive, this one comment robbed me of sleep and brought tears to my eyes.
This makes Jesus’ response to his attackers acutely personal. As he fulfilled his earthly mission, his critics sneered at him, mocking and belittling. He didn’t retort, retaliate, or threaten. He entrusted himself to the just Judge. In his ministry, he felt the sting of personal attack. They didn’t want a Messiah like him, with his virgin birth and suffering-servant mission.
Jesus said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is hard to do when we feel the blush of shame upon our cheeks and the sting of personal attack. Can we walk into the room, smiling and interacting warmly when there is a watching enemy? Can we love and cherish each audience, knowing the group contains a person who prefers to spell out their dislike?
This is a tough assignment, a test. Can I follow in the footsteps of the Savior, loving even an enemy?
I was a straying sheep, one who wandered away from God, but now I have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. Jesus died for my sins, so I could be transformed. So, yes, with his help I can. Like a little lamb, I’m sticking close to the heels of the Master, believing what he says of me, entrusting myself to the just Judge, and praying for his intervention. For me, this is the remedy.
How has the Lord taught you this lesson? How are you following him in loving your enemies?
Except for crucifixion picture, all images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net