How To Love Your Enemy

Today is Saturday, April 21, 2018. Day 21,954.

Seven days until our next Night of Worship.

It’s the birthday of Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963), who said, “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.” BrainyQuote

The word for today is panchreston, a noun which means, “a proposed explanation intended to address a complex problem by trying to account for all possible contingencies but typically proving to be too broadly conceived and therefore oversimplified to be of any practical use.” If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you just said, “huh??”

Supposedly, there is 100% chance of rain today. So far, it has not done so. We postponed our plans to go to Scarborough Faire today, because of the forecast. The YMCA even postponed their “Healthy Kid Fest” because of the forecast. The Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival is also going on this weekend. We still have thunderstorms predicted for later today, though.

The Red Sox had a close call, last night. Drew Pomeranz made his first start of the season, as he faced the Oakland Athletics, and got into trouble fast. In the first inning, he gave up three runs and threw more than forty pitches! So, after one inning, the Sox were down, 3-0, something they had yet to experience this season. In the top of the second, though, the Red Sox and Jackie Bradley, Jr. said “Oh, no you don’t,” when he belted a three-run home run to tie the game. It went on this way for several more innings until Mitch Moreland (remember him, Rangers fans?) sealed the deal with the Sox’s FIFTH grand slam home run of April! That was “all she wrote,” and the game ended with the Sox winning 7-3. This increases their astonishing record to 17-2. Their run differential in the first seventeen games is seventy! That’s the best in MLB by twenty-seven runs! They are only the fifth team in the “modern era” to win 17 of their first 19 games, and the first to do so since the 1987 Brewers. I can’t speak for any other Sox fans, but I’m vacillating between, “Holy cow, this is amazingly awesome!” and, “When’s the scandal going to hit, or the injuries going to start?” You see, I’m pessimistic at heart. Nevertheless, I’m loving this while it is happening. I have to confess, I was foolishly worried after the first inning last night. I should have known better. They continue their series in Oakland tonight.

The Rangers held their own against Seattle until the top of the ninth, last night. It was looking good for a bit. They even went ahead 2-1, at one point. But, alas, the Mariners tied it up in the eighth, and then Kela gave up three runs in the top of the ninth, and Diekman gave up one, which was, in the big picture, irrelevant. Rangers lose 6-2, to make their season record 7-14.

The Red Sox continue to be the best team in MLB, by three games over the New York Mets. The Cincinnati Reds have the worst record, at 3-16.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

A Psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 
They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 
They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 
We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 
How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 
Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 
For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

Psalm 79:1-7

This Psalm seems to have been written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, circa A.D. 70, which is odd, because it is attributed to Asaph. However, as far as I know, the “titles” of these psalms were added later.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12

In today’s Solid Joys, John Piper writes about “The Key to Radical Love.”

When he was preaching on Matthew 5:44 (“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”), Piper posed this question: “How do you love the people who kidnap you and then kill you?” That seems rather extreme, doesn’t it? I mean, how many of us have been kidnapped?

The point is, though, the source of the kind of love that can do this. “Where does the power to love like this come from?” I am immediately reminded of Corrie ten Boom and her sister, and the things they endured in a German concentration camp.

Jesus gives us the key to this kind of radical love in verses 11-12 of the same chapter. We can not only endure the mistreatment of our enemies, we can also rejoice in it!

“This seems even more beyond our reach than praying for our enemies or doing good to them.” Indeed, it does. It seems humanly impossible, and there is a reason for that. It is humanly impossible. But if I could do that, if I could actually rejoice in being mistreated by enemies, then I could certainly, as Jesus commanded, love those who are mistreating me. “If the miracle of joy in the midst of the horror of injustice and pain and loss could happen, then the miracle of love for the perpetrators could happen too.”

What is the key to all of this? It is in the second phrase of verse 12, “for great is your reward in heaven.” This points to something that John Piper has long called “future grace.” “The key to joy is faith in God’s future grace — that is, being satisfied in all that God promises to be for you.”

So, then, when we are commanded to love, we are, essentially, commanded to set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). And things are above consist of all of the things that God has promised to be for us.

“The command to love our enemy is a command to find our hope and our deepest soul-satisfaction in God and his great reward — his future grace. The key to radical love is faith in future grace.” As stated in Psalm 63:3, the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life. And, lest we get things backwards, loving our enemies does not earn us the reward of heaven. “Treasuring the reward of heaven empowers you to love your enemy.”

Father, I thank you for the promises of future grace. I pray that you help me remember these whenever I am tempted to hate my “enemies.” Help me to love my enemies and rejoice if I am persecuted (which, in all honesty, has not happened to me in my lifetime). Your steadfast love truly is better than life, and the promises of what you will be for me, what you are for me, are great and precious to me. Help me to always realize the truth of Isaiah 41:10.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Grace and peace, friends.