“Loving Your Enemies, Forgiving Your Enemies, Praying For Your Enemies”

Posted on May 31, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Marvelous Conversion
Brothers Faris and Samir grew up in Mosul, Iraq, and were raised Muslim. In 2015, ISIS began recruiting them. The brothers listened to ISIS’ pitch, but it was evident to them that joining ISIS would require the peace-loving siblings to become murderers.[1]

Knowing the repercussions awaiting them for rejecting the ISIS invite, Faris and Samir fled Mosul and found their way to a refugee camp in Erbil. There, Faris met one of its few Christians, Abu Ali. Abu shared the Gospel with Faris, and Faris gave his life to Christ. Faris shared Christ with Samir, and a few months later, he, too, accepted Jesus.

One of the key factors influencing Samir’s decision was the verse where Jesus commands His followers to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Said Samir, “This is what attracted me to Jesus in the first place: Loving your enemies, forgiving your enemies, and praying for your enemies.” He added, “This is more like how I thought God should be.”

Faris agrees. When asked about his reaction to the persecution he and Samir experience in the camp, he said, “He’s God. Of course He’s worth it. I feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t know Jesus. When people persecute me or talk about me badly, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I always feel sorry for them.”

What About Us?
I must admit that I was humbled when I read this account. Can I say I feel the same way about my so-called enemies? I’m not even sure I have any enemies in the real sense. Don’t forget, when Jesus spoke to the Israelites about their enemies, He was referring foremost to the Romans. It was not easy for the Israelites to forgive such “barbarians.” This, however, did not stop Jesus from issuing the command: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). At that time, this could well have meant loving and praying for those who burned down your house, beaten you without cause, or took the life of a loved one.

bill maher

What about you and me living in the relatively free-to-worship-whomever West? Who are our enemies? The liberal media? Atheists? Mockers, scoffers, and haters? Yes, famous atheists such as Bill Maher and Penn Jillette get under my skin (particularly because they are so obnoxious), but I wouldn’t go as far as to call them my enemies. Even so, am I praying for them? Actually, I am. Do I love them? Um, well … although, I will say that praying for their salvation is an act of love. Perhaps I just need to start praying more, and with more compassion for their souls.

Who else may be regarded as enemies? How about politicians who don’t share our Christian worldview? Of recent note, these would include President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer . Have you prayed for them, that is, for their salvation? I have. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing, and I’m glad I did and continue to do so. Does this seem rash to you? Again, consider Jesus’ command that we love and pray for our enemies – even if they are persecuting us. The Romans were persecuting the Israelites; Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Pelosi, and Schumer are not persecuting Christians in the full sense of the word. You and I need to pray for them.

man praying

Unloving Attitudes
During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, the one thing that most disturbed me was going to church on Sunday and seeing cars with the bumper sticker which read, “Hillary for Prison 2016.” Is this proper for Christians? What good does it do? Is this reflecting the kind of love Jesus is demanding of us? Is this proper obedience of the Apostle Paul’s admonition to see to it “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)? And Peter says, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).

I’m sorry, but Christians should never have bumper stickers on their cars with such hateful messages as “Hillary for Prison 2016.” What does such a saying do for the kingdom of Christ? How would such a bumper sticker make unbelievers seek Christ? How is this showing love to our enemies and those who persecute us?

A Saying Worth Memorizing
I want to go back to the words of Samir, a Christian who faces daily persecution in his Muslim-dominated refugee camp. He said, “That is what attracted me to Jesus in the first place: Loving your enemies, forgiving your enemies, and praying for your enemies.”

This is a saying worth memorizing. After all, isn’t this what Jesus demands and expects from us?

[1] The full account of the brothers’ journey to Christ can