In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me steadily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. -- Psalm 31:1-5
My thinking has been turned around, as it often is by God's guidance. I always think my understanding is correct (otherwise I wouldn't think that way!), but sometimes I discover that it isn't. Sometimes God shows me that I've made a mistake. Since I am quite willing to listen when God's message affirms my understanding, I know that have to also listen when God's message turns my understanding on its head. Even though this may be very humbling.
I just finished reading Deepak Chopra's "Jesus." This is a completely fictional account of the years before Jesus began his ministry, specifically of Jesus during his twenties. And, although I know it is fiction, I took away from it a greater understanding of one of Jesus' teachings. Funny how a made-up story can lead one to greater truth, isn't it?
Without going into too many details, I will just say that Chopra's story illustrates a profound understanding of who our enemies are, and how we should love them. While "enemies" and "evil" are words that seem too strong in my own experience ("opponent" might be a better descriptor), I will use them, primarily with the understanding that I often mean someone with whom I fundamentally don't agree. I will use them because The Bible uses these words.
Ironically, most of last week was spent reflecting on how we/I ought to resist evil. Jesus clearly says, "Love your enemies.... Turn the other cheek.... Go the extra mile..." I had reached the conclusion that we all must listen when God calls us to resist evil, not turn a blind eye to it, but resist in a way that is loving. "For God makes his face shine on the righteous and the unrighteous."
I should know this well. I've struggled with this before. With God's help, I have been loving towards my "enemies." I have continued to "turn the other cheek" and I have gone the extra mile. I thought I was good at this. But just when I start to feel complacent, I find that I have tripped myself up.
This shows me yet again that if I don't keep God's wisdom ever before me, I will all too easily let the wisdom of the world creep in to my thinking. The wisdom of the world says to not get involved: "Distance yourself from the problem. Let it go. Walk away. There is no good reason to put yourself in harm's way. You could get hurt in the process."
How can you change the heart of an enemy anyway? Isn't this futile? Well, you certainly cannot change their heart by turning your back on them and walking away. Can any good come from that? First of all, it is not a very loving action. To turn your back on someone and walk away is to say that they are unimportant to you. Turning away like that is an act of hatred, not love.
But Jesus also said that if someone does not listen to you, walk away, "brush the dust off your feet". How do I incorporate that into my thinking here? Well, how do I know if my enemy won't listen to me if I don't listen to them, and don't even attempt to talk to them?
It seems that I must at least make the attempt. I believe that God is asking me to do so.
Dear and Loving Father, thank you for correcting my thinking. You are my only Redeemer. Love always, Pam