Practical Proverbs, from Mark, 2 March 2015

 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5, verses 35-36.

The message of Jesus has never changed, never wavered, never compromised.   Since the day He first uttered these words to Jairus, they have held fast and remained true. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

You believe.   Do you pray?

For what I’m about to confess, please don’t think me cocky or holier-than-thou. I’ve started to pray for enemies. ISIS?   I pray for them. The politicians who I think are destroying the country?   I pray for them.   The kids who bullied me for years?   I pray for them now. This is a recent development.   While I’ve prayed for years, it’s only been a recent thing that I’ve started actively praying for those who I think are my enemies.

It’s making a difference.

It goes back to what Jesus said in verse 36: “don’t be afraid, just believe.” You see, I had some deep, internal fears for many years.   Over time, I faced most of them to the point that I could honestly say that I feared nothing of this world. I simply didn’t, and some of the reason for that was that I faced up to them and overcame them.   More to the point, before facing my fears, I prayed for Jesus’ help.   He gave it.   I ascribe my ability to overcome my fear to Christ who gives me everything.

Yet I found there were still things that upset me; there still are today. Jesus never says that we will be friends with everyone here on the Third Rock. Indeed, only fools could think that simply trying to be friendly for people who genuinely hate you could change them. Jesus never said we should approve of fools, or that we should condone their foolishness…just like He never said we should compromise with evil in any way.   What He did say, however, is that we should love our enemies.   Not try to love them, not work on it:   love our enemies.   That means doing something.

In my life journey, I’ve found the quickest way to start that process is to pray for those I’m against.   I don’t condone ISIS, radical Islam, or those who would compromise western values for the false promise of security with terrorists. I don’t endorse the political or social beliefs of people who I think don’t have what’s best for our country at heart. I don’t have to become a bully.   But it’s not my place to judge the hearts of other people even as I disagree with them. All these people are loved by Jesus the same way He loves me.   He wants them in eternity just like He wants me (and you) there.   Do you want to see Jihadi John in heaven?   Jesus does and we should too. Knowing that, I’ll trust that He knows what He’s doing.   So I pray for those I oppose even as I still in some ways oppose them. Accordingly, I no longer fear.

Jesus told Jairus to overcome his fear (of losing his daughter) by believing in Him. He had just told the woman who He healed that her belief had healed her, that she was whole again because she overcame her fears through Jesus. We can do the same.

What say you?

Lord, forgive, protect, and love my enemies. I know You love them, too, so I trust You.

Read Mark 5, verses 21-43.

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