Certain ministers who fancy themselves as “prophets” occasionally make pronouncements of impending death upon people, typically as a result of God’s wrath coming against them.
I wish they wouldn’t, for a number of reasons.
Image via Pixabay
First, they usually get it wrong, embarrassing the prophetic and making a mockery of the Holy Spirit.
Second, it ignores the command of Jesus to love our enemies instead of cursing them (which safely includes speaking death over them) (Lk 6.27-28).
And third, it always seems very convenient that the people they “prophesy” death over always happen to be their own enemies.
It’s always liberal politicians, or enemies of America, or even Christians who believe different things than they do.
I said to my wife the other day, “Most of these people speaking are conservative evangelicals – it’s interesting that God never, ever wants to take out one of their own ranks! It’s always people on the ‘other side.’ ”
Author Anne Lamott wrote, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
I like that enough that I’m going to quote it again:
You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
It has been said that enemy-love is one of the most unique distinguishing marks of Christianity.
It sets Jesus-followers apart from other faiths and philosophies.
Jesus is clear in His teaching on it (e.g. Mt 5.43-48; Lk 6.27-28).
Scripture says that in Jesus, the walls that divide us into “us vs. them” are meant to be torn down, not built up (Gal 3.28).
And yet Christians historically have a long and faithful track record of the exact opposite, making enemies of other Christians, other faiths, other political persuasions, other behaviours.
Preachers spend their time demonizing the “others,” and then holding up themselves and their churches as the pinnacle of truth.
In it, we seem to forget a great pillar of the Gospel:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (Jn 3.16).
Jesus didn’t come hating the world, but loving it. He loved it so much He journeyed in it and gave Himself into its hands, even knowing that the people of this world would eventually kill Him.
He loves His enemies that much.
If we are moving into an “us vs. them” mentality, whether it is against other Christians, other religions and philosophies, other countries, other worldviews, etc., then it is safe to say that we have moved away from loving our enemies.
This is not to say that we must agree with others, or that we abstain from calling out sin or disagreements or problems.
Honestly assessing things is always good.
But as easy as it is to point out the faults in others, or the ways in which we disagree, we are also first and foremost called to deal with the plank in our own eye, before we even think about going off about the speck of dust in someone else’s (Mt 7.1-5).
If we are focusing entirely on the problems elsewhere, and never truly and humbly acknowledging the problems within, then we are falling short of the teaching of Christ.
If we are demonizing the “others” and elevating themselves, then we are falling short of the teaching of Christ.
If we are walking in “us vs. them” language instead of meeting “them” with compassion and concern, then we are falling short of the teaching of Christ.
And listen – we all fall short of the teaching of Christ sometimes!
But as those who are primarily called to love, this love calls us to something harder, something sacrificial, something very counter-cultural, but something much better.
In this Kingdom, enemies are loved, those on the outside are invited to the table, and those in sin may indeed be met with gentle and supportive correction, but even that is fueled by concern and compassion – and we leave God to handle the rest.
In this, we find the way of the example of Jesus, and walk in His footsteps.
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