December 6, 2012
(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
Jesus performed many miracles.
Among the greatest of His miracles was that He loved sinners enough to offer Himself as the price which could forgive and save His betrayer, His enemies, and all of us. His is an example which Christians cannot duplicate, but still must try to emulate.
That is most certainly true when we read about what happened to our brothers and sisters in Jaji, Nigeria. If you haven't heard, let me share. It was Sunday morning and church was ending. As people exited the building a truck drove near the church and exploded. Thankfully, no one was hurt ... at least not for long.
As the people gathered around the first truck, another drove up and also was detonated. As of today nobody knows the number of deaths caused by the twin suicides. We do know at least 11 have been murdered.
I've tried to wrap my mind around the kind of hated which is dedicated to the planning and the pursuit of such indiscriminate slaughter. I've tried to grasp the level of hatred that created this plot, the hatred which asked for and got volunteers to carry it out. How much hatred does it take to buy trucks for this purpose, to load those trucks with explosives, and rig the detonators? How much hatred was in the minds of the drivers, as they drove toward the church? How much hatred is left in those who are planning more such attacks?
How is it possible that in the whole process nobody ever spoke up and said, "Hey, what we're doing here is wrong"?
I can tell you how it's possible.
It's possible because the membership of Boko Haram, the radical Islamic group that is terrorizing Nigeria, does not follow the sacrificing Savior.
They don't know the Christ who came into this world to offer Himself as the ransom for sinful humankind. They have never heard the Savior who instructed His followers to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. They have never seen Jesus on the cross, and they have never heard Him forgive those who were responsible for putting Him there. They have never stood before the empty tomb and been confronted by the knowledge that because God's Son has died and risen, we who are part of His family will live with Him forever.
It is a great tragedy their hatred doesn't let them see such things. Still, that is why, according to the Savior's instructions, we pray for them.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I ask You to forgive me my many sins. Take away my hatred and prejudice and allow Jesus' enemies to see His suffering and sacrifice, which was made for their salvation. Give them a repentant heart and grant them a believing mind. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries