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Monday, March 9

Today’s Readings: Psalm 135; Nehemiah 9:26-38; Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 4:19-25; Psalm 133

Featured Reading: Matthew 5:38-48

It’s often easy to hear the words in the Bible and think about them purely at the abstract level. They are so much easier to digest that way. Every once in a while, however, something happens that gives you a chance to live into those words in a very concrete way. Take today’s reading from Matthew as an example. The passage reads: “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” (Matthew 5:43-44 from The Message). Six years ago I had the chance to live into those words in a stark way. As the first anniversary of Matthew Shepherd’s murder approached, Fred Phelps and his family decided to work their way toward Wyoming for a protest on the anniversary of his death. For those of you who don’t know Fred Phelps – he’s the individual who pickets events that he thinks in any way, shape, or form promotes homosexuality. He also runs the infamous website Needless to say, Fred and his family and on the top of my list for whom I would like to spend a little free time with. Anyway, a student group from the University of Northern Colorado asked the Phelps to stop by and participate in a panel discussion on sexuality; I was invited to participate in a panel as well. Their hope is that I would provide an alternative Christian perspective on the issue. In the days leading up to the event I had so many feelings rush through my head, but by the time the event arrived, I began to relax. The strangest part is that when I finally met the Phelps sons (their father Fred was sick that night), I was able to look them in the eye and shake their hands. We even talked a little bit before we sat down at the table for the event. We were able to connect as people. While the debate was definitely pointed at times, I learned new things about what it meant to live in relationship with one’s “enemies”. Perhaps you have a person or a group that you have spent years vilifying. You might have even convinced yourself that you could never even like – much less love - those “enemies”. If that’s the case, today I would invite you to remember something that carried me through my experience: we don’t have to rely solely upon ourselves to follow Jesus’ challenge to do the unthinkable – we can turn to the One who is the source of life and love to help us accomplish the seemingly impossible. We CAN love our enemies! Til next time…

1 comment:

Chris said...

"They will know we are Christians by our Love."

Thanks for another great post Craig.