Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
In Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River, Jeremiah Land is a single father of three working as a janitor at a local school. He’s also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.
Jeremiah’s school is run by Chester Holden, a mean-spirited superintendent with a skin condition. Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic—mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the superintendent smashed—Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.
How does Jeremiah respond? He could threaten legal action for unfair dismissal or make accusations of his own. He could slink away, accepting the injustice. Think for a moment what you might do.
“Love your enemies,” Jesus says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?
Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheeks in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.
An enemy touched by grace.
Heart-warming. Touching. And total fiction. Let me clue you in – you cannot touch someone and heal them. You cannot touch someone and regenerate their evil heart. This is a false application of Jesus’ words about loving our enemies and doing good to those who persecute us. And yet this is just the kind of thing that professing Christians want to believe, so they choose to do so and then they lay these fictions on victims of abuse, insisting that the Lord requires them to endure and remain in it.
We do not interpret the Scriptures properly by writing fantasy stories about them. That stuff may sell like hotcakes and make publishers rich, but it is a rank misuse of God’s Word. And it does harm. Real, serious, harm.
Notice again this statement by Voysey:
These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?
Yes, let’s imitate God. Does God always deal with His enemies in such a way as to help them become all He wants them to be? Of course not. The implication here by Voysey is that WE can heal them. That WE can change that abuser’s evil heart by “touching them.” Well, we can’t. God can. But He doesn’t. God does not change the heart of an unrepentant, wolf in sheep’s clothing who is hiding in the pews disguised as the finest saint in the church, all the while behind the scenes wickedly abusing his wife or molesting children. In fact, the Lord tells us (see 1 Cor 5) to cast out such a person from His church.
In other cases, as we see in the imprecatory Psalms, the Lord authorizes us to pray for His wrath to come upon the wicked. Particularly upon the wicked who cruelly mistreat God’s people. What, we can ask ourselves, did God want Pharaoh to be? (See Romans 9 – “for this very purpose I raised him up”). What of the apostate who has tasted the good gift of God (Hebrews 6:4-6) but then returned to his own vomit? The Apostle John (see 1 John 5) tells us there is a sin (and I think he means apostasy) that we are not to pray for.
So, instead of writing some damaging story line that is only fit for a comic book, how do we handle Jesus’ words? –
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
We will turn to that answer in the next post this coming Monday.
One of my most ferocious abusers works at Daily Bread Ministries! Forgiveness involves trusting God for the outcome while I refuse to take revenge or develop hatred for the abuser. AND if God provides a “way of escape” (1Cor. 10:13) I MAY TAKE IT!
Susanbegois – yep! Nailed it!!
Current teaching suggests boundaries are sinful and rights are optional. That is not consistent with God’s plan, the Word or his desire for his children. The law is for the lawless. In the Scriptures I believe there is a clear description outlining the process for addressing disputes. It involves addressing the offender, mediation, and if there is no change, recognition of the person like a person who is corrupt and without integrity (Matt. 18:17). God cares enough to set up boundaries and require you to do the same.
When I see a church sign that says “Everyone Welcome” I know all I need to know about such a place. Just keep on driving.
“Daily Bread?” Uh, i’ll just go for a slice of the real stuff – the actual Bible. The namby-pambys can have their daily sawdust “wonder” stuff.
I heard a true story about a Christian teacher who had a horrible headteacher. When she resigned, she asked, before the whole school, if she could pray. She prayed for forgiveness, leaving the head in tears. She forgave, but that doesn’t mean to stay she stayed in a horrible situation…
Reading this two things immediately came to mind. Jesus died for all sinners, but he did not die for unrepentant sinners.
And the scripture in 2Peter 3:16 – as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the UNTAUGHT and UNSTABLE DISTORT, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own DESTRUCTION.
no one down here
Yes, about Jesus having not died for those sinners who are not elect. They will NEVER repent and come to Christ. They cannot.
God is angry with the wicked every day.
A “christian” abuser is defiling the name of God. This is not going to prosper. I thank God that I have experienced this abuse, so that I can also experience a depth of God’s love, grace, and holiness in a way that would not be possible otherwise. I always grappled with God’s love. How could GOD love someone like me??! Only now I know. It’s not about me. It’s about Christ. And God is my Father. He will treat me in the only way a loving Father would treat his child. He will not allow the wicked to overcome me. He will not require that I submit to wickedness.
You continually nail it.
Thank you for sharing. LOL, I can relate. As Christians we have to recognize our sphere of responsibility. There is a point where each individual ends and begins. That truth does not end in marriage. The fact that people choose to “do” life together is a recognition of partnership not ownership of another person’s choices. Being raised in and on toxic theology and relationships led to a long lasting fog. It only began to dissipate when I learned that unhealthy people attack or abandon when survivors assert boundaries. I choose to reject the dysfunction and slander that comes along with the common teaching and embrace Jesus’ teaching wholeheartedly.
When someone gets angry or retaliates or escalates their abusive behavior as a result of a survivor asserting their protective and personal boundaries, that’s the hallmark of a dangerous, unsafe person. Healthy people apologize, make changes to their offensive behavior, want to do better. Unfortunately, there’s no “cure” for these kinds of people. They are non candidates for therapy even! Usually they are sociopaths, malignant narcissists, psychopaths. Certainly they are abusers who DON’T CHANGE.
NO CONTACT is a way a survivor has to respond in this situation. For personal physical safety and mental well-being. It’s hard at first.
Smear campaigns, character assassination, grooming, polishing and bribing allies and their “flying monkeys” who carry out their further abuse and damage to us after we go to No Contact. But with time, it gets easier. One realizes how MUCH BETTER LIFE IS without the abuser in it! And one wonders what took us so long to get away from them!
Most of us were also victims of twisted Scripture teachings and false doctrines heaped on us by so many so-called “christians”. That’s what took us-intelligent, kind, forgiving, open, eager to please God,…people so long to come out of the fog.
Learning sound Scriptural teachings is pivotal to getting out of the fog and getting away from the abuse. These blogs and past sermons on the tactics of abusers by Pastor Crippen are crucial tools. Thank God for them.
Z your wise words and Overview of these wicked types really helps us normals wrap our head around the evil. Yes they hate us for what they can’t have. So good to hear the pathology articulated so well.
Thank you, I am living every word and looking forward to the day when the smearing quiets down some.
That’s the problem isn’t it? We “normals” couldn’t process the abusers’ machinations, hatefulness, targeting us and abusing us BECAUSE we are normal! THEY have the character disordered minds-not us…
It’s very hard being a trauma victim … to find myself alone on an “island”. Better to be alone than to be in the company of evil. The abusers and their now allies in evil were never my family or friends. None of it was real. The Lord is helping me accept those hard facts. Nothing I could ever have done for them would have changed them. They are abusers.
2 Timothy 5:17 “But the LORD stood with me and gave me strength…” ☝🏽HIS STRENGTH!
I pray you and all the others in various stages of recovery from your traumas recognize when it feels lonely that: We are His, and that is enough.
May be off topic…and Z you’re correct..it’s His strength..His faith too. Despite not being able to take on the burdens, He’s nevertheless led me to know it’s time to flee without knowing how this is all going to be. Within a week’s time, He made it possible!!(amazing no?:) Calling an attorney for an appointment today. Please pray for me and my family.
You prayed for His guidance and God led you and He will never lead you wrong!
I will definitely continue to pray for you and also for the attorney to receive Holy Spirit Wisdom. I pray God’s FAVOR be upon you in all of this because you are HIS BELOVED DAUGHTER!
Don’t be discouraged if you have to might possibly have to try consulting different lawyers to find one who understands abuse issues. Pray and go with your discernment about the right one.
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for☝🏽THE LORD your God WILL be with you wherever you go.”
I am happy to hear you are taking steps to get FREE!