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January 3 – Love Your What?

In ancient times, when new kings took over a country, they wiped out anyone from the old regime who could be a threat to their throne. They didn’t want anyone popping up that the people of the country they had conquered could rally around and create an uprising. In America, we don’t do things that way. Leadership is changed by a popular vote. All the members of the government who were political appointees know that they will lose their jobs, but not their heads, and prepare resumés for their next job. In the meanwhile, those of the victorious party start angling for the best places in government. When an election has been as bitterly fought as our most recent election was, sometimes the rhetoric flying back and forth between the parties gets heated.

In our current technological world, it’s easy to spread those angry messages. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat all become vehicles to express our hatred for “the other guy” while proclaiming our admiration for “our guy.” Election winners gloat about their victory and threaten to wipe out anything the other party stands for. Election losers cry foul and threaten to do anything they can to sabotage the work of the victorious party. It’s the American way. It’s not, however, God’s way. The us vs. them mentality that dominates our political scene is not too different from the mentality of the people in the days of Jesus. Jews hated Romans; Romans hated Jews. The mere appearance of a Roman soldier would set some people’s teeth on edge. Jesus had a solution to the problem then, and now. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

Jesus had a radical view of dealing with people. He didn’t understand how this world works. That command to love your enemy? It sure sounded good, but not many people took it to heart. Even His disciples talked about raining fire from heaven down on people who would be considered enemies. So, Jesus talked a good game, but did He really understand how things really worked in this world. Do my words shock you? Most of us who follow Christ would be aghast at hearing someone actually say something like that, but the truth is, we often live that way. I don’t know who “they” is for you, but how many times have you complained about what “they” do? How often do you show love to “them?” How often do you do good, or bless, or pray for “them?” Those words of Jesus are powerful life-changing, even culture-changing words. We hear them and say, “Amen!” but then when push comes to shove, we deal with things in the alleged real world, and not as though we are living in the Kingdom of God.

Those words of Jesus are truly game-changers. Think about what would happen if we actually started living by them. Imagine if Democrats and Republicans loved each other. What would happen if Christians really did love those who hated them? and prayed for them? and blessed them? Maybe we would start a dialogue. Maybe we would listen to each other instead of talking past each other. Maybe, and most importantly, people who experienced the love of God through us would be more willing to let God take control of their lives. If our lives show that amazing difference of God’s love and grace to people who live in a world filled with petty and vindictive people, it will draw people to the God we serve. We may have the right to be petty and vindictive at times; sacrifice that right on the altar of God’s forgiveness. Let people see and experience His love through you.

Lord God, there are so many people that spread discord and hatred. Help me not to get sucked up into that. Help me to show others Your love, grace, and forgiveness in all I do.

Daily Devotion by Bob James


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