How’s that prayer list? Have you, like me, found some surprising names on it? Are you working to pray for them and understand that they are sinners just like you? Do you remain aware that you may be the only Christianity they encounter on a daily basis?
We’ve seen that God loved us enough to give His Son, and then to offer us a free gift of salvation. We know that “whosoever” includes the people we like as well as those we don’t. We know we are tasked to show God’s love to others. Now let’s look at how Jesus showed agape love.
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:22-25 (ESV)
We’ve recently passed the Easter season. We sing songs of Christ’s rising from the grave and conquering death. But His resurrection wasn’t the only piece of the action during Holy Week. Before He rose, He had to die a horrific death. He had to bear my sins on that tree. If I had been the only person on the earth, He would have died for me – and you. Jesus did this all voluntarily. He didn’t pick people to die for. He died for every one of us. And He did it before we even wanted Him to:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10 (ESV)
Who did Christ die for? His enemies. If Christ made the choice to die for His enemies (everyone who is unsaved is His enemy), then why can’t we make the choice to live for Him and show love to our enemies?
What does Christ’s death save us from? Do you appreciate what He did enough to show agape love to your enemies? If you can’t answer “yes” enthusiastically (I know I can’t!) then you need to pray for God’s compassion. Acknowledge your inability and ask God to help. The one you’ve treated poorly might not believe your change of heart right away, but consistent love will win them over.
Please continually pray for those on your list. You may find that you’ll need to add people, and of course I hope that you find the need to remove people as you begin to show agape love to all you encounter!
On Friday we wrap up this study. This has been most challenging for me. There are people on my list that I really don’t want to pray for. Are you having the same trouble? Do you know that God will bless you mightily if you work through your sin – yep, not loving is a violation of that first commandment and it’s sin! As I’ve taken steps to walk the talk and live through these two commandments, I find that my life is far more peaceful than before. I have a long way to go, but by God’s grace, I’ll get there!