Jacob’s final message deals with persecution, forgiveness and outreach in the face of impending war in Syria.
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
In the face of terrorism, hatred and prejudice, how should we as God’s people respond? Jesus not only left us crystal clear orders about dealing with enemies, He also carried out to His final breath what He asked us to do. Though it is tempting to react with justifiable anger to the atrocities of ISIS, Boko Haram and Hamas, Jesus demanded for us to take a different course. That course change will never come unless we can recognize for a moment the truth that Alexander Solzhenitsyn described ” …the line between good and evil passes, not through states nor between classes,nor between political parties either but right through every human heart…”
We consider the world divided between two classes of people, “Good and evil” rather than a single group of fallen men and women
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us Romans 5:8
So how can we follow Jesus in this dangerous modern world? Not long after September 11th 2001, I was asked by a Muslim what I felt about Muslim terrorists. She was a little surprised when I told her that Jesus had left us the command to Love our enemies.
Here are three instructions Jesus gave to take on the evil that surrounds us today exactly as it surrounded Him as He was nailed to the cross. He showed us that it was not to be our own strength, weapons or wisdom, but with words, actions and prayer.
Bless them that curse you – Jesus told us, then during His last hours He turned to the thief and told Him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Yes, the thief was repentant, but he hadn’t started out that way at all. In fact the Bible is clear that at first, both of the thieves hurled abuse at Christ. In return Jesus offered blessing though only one received it.
Do good to them that hate you- goes way beyond our words. The actions of Jesus were a choice. As Peter pulled out a sword to defend Him, Jesus told him that legions of angels stood ready to rescue but that was not His choice. Jesus freely gave himself on the cross in the very face of terrorism. He trusted himself to the Father and in doing good defeated sin
Pray for them which despitefully use you- moves on to the realm of asking God to now do for our enemies more than we can do. Before Jesus drew His last breath He called out in prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”…Luke 23:34
The secular world will never get it. The enemies of our faith cannot understand this. Often we ourselves miss the opportunity the opposition has given us. Today is still the day that the Lord has made. This is not a chapter of history that has somehow spun out of God’s control. Yes, the church is suffering in Syria and Christians are being slaughtered by the thousands in Nigeria. Yes, the government of Iran continues to imprison pastors and church leaders but it is not a sign of their power, but rather of their weakness. Remember how they crucified our Lord, but He prayed for their forgiveness. They decapitated Paul, but He established the foundations of the western church. They exiled John, but from the prison-Island of Patmos He sent a message of hope. God is still and will always be in on the throne. When our day comes to stand and speak for God by our life,never allow fear, bitterness or anger to rule us. Instead when trouble comes to our door let’s see it as our chance to obey Jesus, love our enemies and overcome evil with good!
Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me. These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy. Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us. Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world. The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ
Last year a bomb was attached to one wall of the building and it fell one of the children in the Sunday school breaking his leg. Later the rest of the walls fell and the church needed to be rebuilt. Here is a part of the story from the ministry Mercy Angels Pakistan. Please pray…
Praying for the Church building construction. We have completed its foundation with the material that we had of the old building. Now we are praying for the provision of God for the resources. We all standing on the faith and trusting in the LORD for a great miracle for the construction of this church. Our Sunday school children are praying and fasting for this church building. I invite my friends, brothers and sisters to pray with us and this is an opportunity for you as well to share the blessing that God has given to you. We believe in the promises of God and we believe the rewards that God will give to them who share their blessings. Please don’t forget us and keep praying….Hallelujah….
Visit Mercy Angels Pakistan for full story and photos
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. Acts 7:59-60
Dedicated to those killed today as the worshipped at All Saints Church in Pakistan
While we enjoy peace and acceptance here in the west our brothers and sisters in many countries are suffering relentless persecution. In the words of C S Lewis, “You’re a family aren’t you? Maybe it’s time you started acting like one!”
As one family in Christ the least we can do is pray.
We need to continue to remember the plight of our brother, Pastor Saeed Abedini. This link is the latest update from his wife and concerning her speech to the UN Human Rights Commission