Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless Our Enemies

Today is the Fourth of July, a day in which many Americans celebrate the rebellion against the constitutionally limited monarchy of Britain. Most Christians join in with the nationalism of today, singing refrains of “God Bless America” in churches all around the land.

However, rather than demanding God bless us, maybe Christians should check the Bible to see how they are supposed to pray. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus tells true Christians to “love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them”. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen Christians actually try this out, so in this blog I’m going try to be praying for my enemies, and the enemies of America in general. I’d encourage you to pray with me, add other ideas to pray for, or (if you’re not a fan), add your own name to the list of ‘enemies’! haha ;)

God, thank you for the many blessings you’ve showered on America. I ask that you would shower them on our enemies as well.

Bless North Korea, especially as the new leader begins to take over for Kim Jong Il. Please guide him in decision-making in a very hostile world; give him wisdom to produce more food for his people.
I pray for the members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Please work in their hearts to reveal the truth of your love. Reconcile them to their estranged neighbors and family members; enable them to go back and leave lives of violence.
Bless China economically; enable it to grow sustainably. Please protect the health of Chinese citizens against pollution and smog. Protect the Chinese from being affected by any US default on debt.
God, I ask you bless the abortion doctors. Protect them from any violent attacks by Christians or anything like that. Grant them favor financially. But I do ask that you would lead them away from the abortion industry.
God, please be with the drivers who are jerks on the road. Protect them from ever getting into car accidents. Enable them to reach their destinations quickly and efficiently. Grant them good driving weather whenever they get in the car. May the radio always play their favorite songs.
God, bless the capitalists who only care for money. Show them true happiness and bless them with great families, health, and joy.
 Please bless the atheists— especially the angry ones who love to mock those who believe in God. Give them long and happy lives here on Earth, and enable them to see the beauty of your creation, and to grasp that there is a Maker behind it all. Be merciful to them: they know not what they are doing.
Show kindness to the gang members and drug dealers of Newburgh, Lancaster, and other areas. Help them to avoid being sent to prison for long amounts of time; allow them to develop marketable, legal skills so that they can have productive careers when they are ready to get out of this lifestyle.

And God, I forgive my enemies all the wrongs that they have done me. Please forgive them as you have forgiven me, they know not what they are doing. Please show me and other Christians how exactly to love these people and be a blessing to them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Huh. As I finish up this blog, I’m realizing that was actually a really neat experience. It forces one to empathize with them and think about their situation. And in the act of actively praying for good to come to our enemies, something amazing happens: they’re no longer enemies. The Self/Other barrier gets cracked, and for a short while the ‘enemy’ joins the long list of friends, family, and loved ones who we are always praying for.

This, I am convinced, is perhaps the single biggest difference that marks Christianity from all other religions. Every other one has some system of morality, but they break down when it encounters the enemy, the Other: you have to either ignore them, avoid them, convert them, or kill them. Only Jesus says, “Love them, forgive them, and pray for them.” There are no outsiders. Everyone belongs.

So I think I’m going to keep praying for my enemies. God knows they need it. 

May God even bless little wannabe terrorists like this kid.