I used to know this woman in church who bugged the ever loving hell out of me. Every time I saw her I just wanted to slap her in that big flapping mouth for the things she’d come out with. Oh, she knew just how to compliment with a criticism while she smiled down upon me like an angel.
And I would tell myself that maybe she was having a bad day, a bad week or just a bad life.
God brought me to my knees
I was in a church service, praying and asking God if He had a message for anyone in the church. I took my shoes off, opened my hands and let my mind fall silent in the worship music. When I opened my eyes, words and pictures filled my head for a few people, and then a light shone down on her. The woman who I cringed at seeing each Sunday. A petty part of me smiled thinking “Finally! Give it to her God. Tell her what a pain in the arse she is.”
I listened and after the service I walked straight up to her. God’s message for her was about how special and talented she was. And when I was seeing it, I felt a small part of that. He was proud of her. I remember walking away, and that petty part of me spoke up again. What the hell was that God? That woman is NOTHING like you just described. But I no longer really felt that way. God had let me see, for just a second, how He sees her.
And that just sucks – you know why? Because once you see people the way God sees people, it is impossible not to love them.
And it sucks because it is so easy to hate someone and much harder to love them. And from the day I started seeing people the way God does, it’s messed me up. I finally get the verse in Luke 6:27-36 entitled ‘Love for Enemies’.
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.”
This line has haunted me from the day I heard it. Truly, it has taken a shameful number of years for me to wrap my head around this, and the verses surrounding it:
Love for Enemies (Luke 6:27-36)
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those
who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you only love those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
Religious identity should equal love
While I’ve been writing this article, the attack on Brussels in Belgium has occurred. 31 people killed and 270 injured. I hear the news telling me that this act falls under a religious identity.
How could anyone attack others in the name of God unless they believed that that God does not love or care for the people they are attacking?
I try to calm my own anger and hate and recall God's revelation to me: My God loves the people who attack me. They are His people and He created each one. Lovingly.
When I am scared as I see the world on the verge of war, I feel God reminding me: “When you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” Luke 21:9
As I’ve been stressed and reading my Bible I hear God again and again reply: “Love and be calm.” And it has brought me peace.
Love Your Enemy
Though my initial instinct is still to lash out when I feel scared or angry, after a moment I remember that those who would hurt me and hate me are loved by God, and are precious.
And it’s through this understanding that I am able to accept the message ‘Love Your Enemy’, turn the other cheek, and be faithful to God.
Now for me, facing the overwhelming fear of the recent attacks, including Brussels, makes me feel helpless, but God broke it down for me:
A poor widow gives everything she has when she drops two small coins into a collection box. And God praises her small offering as having given more than the rest for she gave everything she has. (Luke 21:1-4)
I felt this message in my heart: Do what you can, because even if it’s small, if it’s all you have to give, it is the greatest gift of all.
So I’m going to keep making small changes and refocus my world the way Jesus told me to. By loving my God and my neighbours.
Jacinta Julius was a girl when she met God and a woman when she stopped running from Him. She is a mother, a lover, a writer and a painter. She is driven one day and run down the next. A normal person. She currently resides in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with her family.
See all previous articles by Jacinta Julius