The hardest thing that Jesus asks us to do is love people who have hurt us. Some folks get stuck at the forgiveness level; they hug their pain and disappointment tightly and refuse to let it go for themselves. That is a little bit different from what I am talking about. I am talking about the part 2 of forgiveness. I am talking about the place pass forgiveness where we are commanded to actively engage in love:
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28 KJV, http://bible.com/1/luk.6.27-28)
It seems like engaging in self torture to have to forgive and then spend time thinking about and praying for the person who has caused you misery of some kind. It seems totally unfair to have to act kindly–brotherly and sisterly–to people who viciously prey on you and work toward your emotional, physical, or professional demise. When I envisioned it (as I took a second look at this scripture that many quote but few do), an image of handing someone the rope they need to hang you flashed before my eyes.
And yet, I see the beauty and wisdom of this command.
Jesus placed a spiritual demand on believers that requires a next level faith. You have to literally wholly lean on Jesus’ name to this because every feeling that you have ever felt will well up in you as you open your mouth to pray for the ones who have tried to murder who you are trying to become in life. Every petty thing you can think of strolls through your mind and squats on your good sense. The smart thing to do, the reasonable thing to do, is to be at least noncommittal and unconcerned about somebody who misuses you.
But Jesus has insisted that we elevate ourselves to His level. 1 John 4:17 states that as He is in this world, so are we. And so He asked us to look passed all the reasonable things that any normal human being would do and do the Godly thing–to speak toward the spiritual diseases of folks who do not walk in the light of the Word. We are asked to step out of our human understanding and stand in the gap for people unequipped to fight the spiritual battles that people do not know they are in. We are required to not only say, “I forgive them”, but to also add, “Because they don’t know what or why they do what they do”–and then speak to their revelation and healing.
That is a hard row to hoe, even for the most Christian of us.
This is where I am now, okay with the concept of forgiveness but struggling to take this next step. One thing I know for sure is that I am not as forgiving as I think I am. I have struggled mightily, surprised at the hidden memories and feelings I assumed long gone when I try to level up in my love walk. I recognize that I still have inner work to do, burdens that I need to put on the altar and leave there for good. This part of the process has challenged me more than any other I have experienced.
I have no advice or anything like that, other than the fact that knwoing is half the battle. The other half is doing it anyway. Pray for the people you would not get within 50 feet of again. Be kind toward that coworker who spends every waking minute making you life hell. Personal growth comes as a result of faking it until yoy make it. I know in my own prayer life, I will tell God how unfair I think it is to do something for someone who has only ever done the opposite for me.
But then I force myself to tru and do it anyway. Because I want to be like Jesus. Another hard row to hoe but one that is worth the work.
That being said, pray for me and I will pray for you, that we can all activate the love demanded of us by Jesus.