(Jesus said) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:43-44
Patrick Greene is an atheist.
Patrick Greene is the kind of atheist who believes in taking a stand when something rankles him. The fact that Henderson County, Texas, a place five hours north of his San Antonio home, put a nativity set on a courthouse square rankled Patrick Greene a lot.
Believing a religious Christmas symbol didn't belong on government property, Greene went to Henderson County, promised to lead a rally, and file a lawsuit if things didn't change.
Well, things changed.
Mr. Greene backed out of his threats when he found he had a detached retina and was going blind. He had to quit his job as a taxi driver and had to figure out how to make ends meet. Making ends meet was especially troublesome since he had no health insurance, and his disability hadn't come through.
The news about Mr. Greene made Jessica Crye, a member of San Springs Baptist Church, give thanks to the Lord. No, she wasn't thanking God the threatened lawsuit had been dropped. She was thanking God the Christian community had been given a chance to show the kind of stuff the Savior's people do.
She, with her church, organized a fundraiser. Hundreds of dollars were sent to Patrick Greene. It was enough to put food on his table 'til assistance arrives. Other Christians offered to pay for his surgery, a gift Greene declined since the success of the surgery was not a guaranteed proposition.
As Pastor Erick Graham said, "We don't discriminate on who we help, whether they are Christians or non-Christians, church members or not, we just help those with a need."
I think those gifts and donations must have made the Savior smile. Somebody understood what He meant when He said we should "love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us." Indeed, Jesus did more than say those words: He lived those words.
He was born into a world that didn't want Him; He was misunderstood and hated by those whom He had come to save. He was deserted by His church, let down by His government, betrayed by a disciple, and deserted by His friends. Yet, never was there a time when Jesus didn't love His enemies or pray for those who persecuted Him.
This is why we, who are the beneficiaries of His life, love and sacrifice, should do the best we can to reflect His Spirit to others. It can make a difference.
How do I know? Mr. Greene is moving to Henderson County where it's cheaper to live, where he can walk to a Wal-Mart, and where he can be near some Christians. (That last part is my thought, not his.)
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to reflect Your love to others, so they might see the greatness of Your grace. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries