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Love Your Enemies and Bring Peace to Your Soul

A Sermon Delivered at the
Compassionate Internet Church

8 June 2008

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Proverbs 24:17-20
Matthew 5:43-48
1 John 4:18

Hardly a day goes by when someone doesnít write to us about wishing to take revenge on people who are cruel to animals and to helpless human beings.

They want them to suffer in the same ways that they are cruel to others.

They want them to die.

They want them to go to hell.

And they curse them with every swear word in the book.

When we look at the atrocities that are committed against people and other animals, we can well understand these sensitive peopleís anger and frustration over feeling helpless to end all the suffering themselves.

The unfortunate thing about feeling this way is that it really hurts us emotionally, and sometimes physically, so that we canít think clearly.

Part of this emotional toll we suffer, when we are filled with anger, is a loss of love, which is usually expressed in hatefulness towards those who cause the suffering.

In this emotional state, we fail to recognize that hate is really a form of fear.

Note what we are told in 1 John 4:18.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

When we hold on to this perfect love, we find that we turn over our anger to the Lord in prayer, and we are able to think clearly.

And when we think clearly, we are able to find ways to peacefully take a stand against these forces of evil.

Additionally, history has taught us that anger and violence only produces more violence, and almost never brings about the peace we are seeking.

So, the answer must be found in love!

Note what we are told in Proverbs 24:17-20.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;

18 Lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
And He turn away His anger from him.

19 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Or be envious of the wicked;

20 For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.

When we try to circumvent Godís vengeance and judgment by doing it ourselves, God will not act, because He has taught us to be loving and above the ways of the world.

We are to give these troubling problems to the Lord in prayer.

In addition, if we are truly loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, we should feel the pain in Godís heart over these evildoersí hardness of heart, so our prayers should also contain a prayer for them...

...not a prayer to bless them, but a prayer to soften their hearts to feel the pain and suffering that they are causing, so that they would turn from their evil ways and be saved from the wrath to come.

God did not create these people to be evil; they became that way on their own or through the influence of the people and situations around them; and this grieves God, as it would any loving parent.

And we need to grieve for them, along with God.

When we look at all of the evil acts caused by these wicked people in the world around us, it often seems like God does nothing to stop them; but that is because we only look at the physical world surrounding us, and not the spiritual world.

This is why Jesus gives us another way of looking at this problem and dealing with our feelings and anger.

Letís turn in our Bibles to Matthew 5:43-48.

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'

44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

And we could add: and those we care about.

45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?

47 "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

When we have seen and know how horribly billions upon billions of animals are tortured and killed every year, it is hard to remember to remain a loving person.

It seems that every day on television, we see the suffering caused by wars and acts of terrorism; and all of it comes from our societal lack of love.

To a sadistic and uncaring person, seeing supposedly compassionate and loving people get angry and seem hypocritical would be considered a victory.

We are never going to change hearts through anger; it is only going to happen through love and prayer, and by being seen as steadfast workers for peace for all living beings.

None of us will be able to accomplish everything, but as long as we are doing everything in our power to do no harm and be a truly loving and compassionate peacemaker, then being that witness is all we can do.

The rest we have to leave in the hands of the Lord; this includes allowing the Holy Spirit to use our witness to touch the hearts and souls of those who cause so much pain and suffering in this world, or who turn a blind eye to all the horror.

Anger destroys the peace of our own soul, but being a loving and compassionate peacemaker brings peace to our soul, even though we may be mourning for those we couldnít help.

We need to trust in the Lord.

We need to trust that our sensitivities and empathy is a gift from God.

We need to trust that our desire to end the warring madness in this world, and to give animals the right to live free of all human exploitation is a God-called mission.

We need to continue to be the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God we have been called to be.

Amen.

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