“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves."
Matthew 5:43-47 Message Version
When was the last time someone or some situation challenged you in such a way that it brought out the best in you?
Surely is wasn't something or someone that really tested you or your patience!
It is hardly our best selves that make an appearance when we get cut off as we are driving or when someone challenges our ideas, beliefs or perhaps our stance on a certain subject and certainly not when a co-worker throws us under the bus to our boss.
Revenge options brewing!
Challenging situations, or flat-out being wronged, rarely, if not never brings out the good in us does it? Let alone could we ever imagine it ever positively impacting our day or lives.
Yet Jesus does indeed proclaim that when we are challenged, angered and feeling vengeful, that we should take that moment to retreat to a quite place for some mediatation and prayer. Find the God of peace before you respond in a way that will be regretful and will only leave us feeling empty instead of justified. This place, Jesus encourages, is where we can find our "true selves".
Jesus reveals that our "enemies" and our confrontations with them can actually be an opportunity to challenge, test and mold us into something and someone better.
Such trials can either sour us, break us or distort us or it can cause us to learn to respond better and allow our character to bloom!
Whether we want it or not, there are opportunities for this to be on display in our lives everyday. In fact, there are stirring examples in front of our faces right now on our social media feeds.
I am encouraged by humanity once again when I see the peaceful displays of "The Kindness" and "No Hate" marches that are taking place across the Country. They are being held in response to some gatherings of racist and hate groups and are absolutely dwarfing them to the point that those groups simply pack up and leave defeated.
And you can't help but to be moved and inspired to see so many people reaching out, working together and risking their very lives for those of strangers in the wake of Hurricane Harveys destruction. The Nation is coming together in prayer, manpower and resources to literally rescue victims of this terrible storm!
It is tangible evidence that bad can be turned into good, because that is how God operates. He is in the business of restoring dreams, families, friendships, lives, loves, jobs and communities. He finds the broken, the discarded and the forgotten and gives it new life.
It is far too easy to stay focused on the negative, the insurmountable circumstances, the bad news all around us and thus drown in it. However, we have options. We can instead allow it to bring out something good in us! We can look for the opportunity to rewrite the narrative, the story and the headlines!
Normal everyday people like you and me are doing just that all around us!
God is always at work editing a better story!
We too have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing!