ChurchBut I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (NETFull)

A scarlet ribbon stretched across the doorway of a church thatched with palm leaves in southern India. I was invited to open the new mud wall building by cutting the ribbon. The thirty some Christians living in this hostile village needed encouragement. The previous month, militant Hindus burned their church to the ground. What could I dare preach to these persecuted souls?

“Satan had his way in your village for countless generations. Now Jesus is moving in and you are caught in the middle of a spiritual war. You must choose a side but the weapons you fight with are not the weapons of the world. You must combat your enemies with love, forgiveness, and prayer. Stick to these three disciplines and you will have victory in this test.”

I knew it was the right message. I also knew it was easier said than done. There were smiling friends and a Neighborhood Watch program waiting in my hometown. These desperate believers had to continue living next to enemies who would stop at nothing to see them eliminated.

Even though people don’t regularly attack me, I do have those inside my sphere who are difficult to love. If you are human and you interact with another person, disagreement is inevitable. The grace I bring to an abrasive relationship is the measure of my Christlikeness. And I can’t let the subtlety of my love-test lull me into thinking my response is meaningless in eternity. It matters.

I’m pretty certain my friends in the burned out village church will stand the test and love their way into the hearts of many in their community. But will I do the same in my world?

Prayer:Jesus, help me deeply love everybody you bring to me.

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