Monday, September 12, 2011

"Because of My Enemies"

 Spirit & Truth # 241
“Because of My Enemies”

By Rev. Greg Smith

            Ten years ago this past Sunday, our nation was attacked.  Thousands were killed in a brutal suicide mission.  Individual families had their lives changed, with loved ones ripped away in their prime and without warning.  America was changed on that day.  Suddenly, secure living was a myth.  People flocked to churches, at least for a while.  They cried out to God for healing, and struggled with their ability to forgive.
            Country singers responded with the heartcry of America.  Toby Keith sang:

Hey Uncle Sam
Put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shakin' her fist
And the eagle will fly
Man, it's gonna be hell
When you hear Mother Freedom
Start ringin' her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in you’re a--
It's the American way[i]

            It has been ten years now, and this past Sunday many of us attended prayer vigils and remembrance services to honor those who have fallen.  If they were well-done, they honored the victims, but they also honored the lives of civilian casualties that have taken place in wars since September 11.  If they were done very well, then they even remembered the human lives that were lost to the tragedy of religiously guided suicide on that day.  September 11 of this year has caused me to ask the question, “How do we respond to our enemies?”
You see, initial anger at an injustice in your life is understandable.  No matter who your enemy is, both personal and national, your immediate response is usually anger.  Then there’s the lengthy grief process of those who have experienced loss.  But ultimately, there must be healing.
King David was had a lot of deadly enemies—some of them were even in his own family.  His prayer in Psalm 5:8 was, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies.”  If we’re honest with ourselves, we behave pretty well when things are going nicely.  But when our enemies come against us, they try our patience and cause us to explode in anger.  David’s psalm admits that it’s our enemies that tempt us toward an unrighteous response.  He prays that God will lead us in righteousness, specifically because these people make it so difficult to respond in the right way.
It’s reported the Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, never bore a grudge.  When a friend wanted to remind her of an offense someone had done to her, the friend said, “Don’t you remember?”  Clara could only respond, “No.  I distinctly remember forgetting that.”  That’s the kind of Christian that Jesus calls each of His followers to be.
How do you respond to your enemies?  Jesus taught us to forgive them, love them, and pray for them.  Maybe you’re not quite there yet, but Psalm 8:5 gives us the first step.  Walk in righteousness, because of your enemies.

[i] Song:  “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).”

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