GET TOGETHER- Loving People Who Oppose Your Message
Ac 7:59,60 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Ac 26:27,28 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
We live in a culture that is often openly hostile to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It offends our current culture to publicly proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. It offends our current culture to proclaim that marriage is between one man and one woman. It offends our current culture to proclaim that life begins at conception. And yet as Christians we are called and commanded to love those who oppose us.
One of the areas that I have really been praying about lately is how to love people without compromising truth. That can be very challenging. I do love people. I am thankful for people. I love people of different colors. I love people of different nationalities. I love people who are currently living in sinful lifestyles and in rebellion against God. I am thankful that people loved me when I was living a sinful lifestyle. I am also thankful that God loved me to much to leave me in a sinful lifestyle.
A temptation when you love people like I do is to fall into the danger of relativism where one thinks well this might be right for you, but it is not right for me. The best place to look on how to love people and to still be faithful is in the word of God.
Stephen had preached the truth. The Pharisees and the religious leaders could not handle it. Stephen had preached the truth out of love for Jesus Christ and out of love for his people. And yet they had him stoned to death. But did he respond with viciousness and a desire to seek revenge upon those who condemned him? No, he responded out of love with a forgiving heart. He did not fall for the scheme of the enemy to destroy his testimony by responding the way that the world would respond. His battle just like ours is not against flesh and blood, but as the word tells us in Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Recently there have been several occasions where the enemy has tried to sucker me in to fight battles in the flesh rather than in the spirit. We need to pray for God to give us a love for those who hate us and hate the message that we teach and preach. Jesus said it like this “Mt 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Another example is the Apostle Paul. He had just poured his heart out to King Agrippa. Agrippa had been made superintendent of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. He had the authority to dismiss charges against Paul. Paul loves him enough to share his testimony and to offer Christ to him. Yet, Agrippa refuses God’s offer of mercy and grace. But what a good example of loving one who hates your message that we see in the Apostle Paul right here. He pours his heart out before a King who lived a very immoral and extravagant lifestyle. He does this out of love for Christ and because he knows that as one that had been forgiven much that God was willing to forgive Agrippa if he had asked him to. Rather than receiving Christ after Paul had finished his response was this “Ac 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” I wonder how many times that he has regretted making that statement over the past two thousand years.
My prayer for myself and all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ and hold to a Biblical worldview is that He will help us to love those that persecute us. This morning as I was praying in the church sanctuary I was calling out names of people who openly oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ to experience his love and to be turned from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God. I also prayed that the Lord would help me to love those who oppose the Gospel and that my desire to see them saved would not be to prove that we are right, but for them to know what true love and forgiveness is through a born-again relationship with Jesus Christ.
LET US PRAY
Lord when you walked this earth there were people who hated your message. Some were religious, some were the Romans who were occupying Your land and others like the man on the cross who rejected the mercy that You were offering. Help us to love those who oppose us. Help us to pray for them and have a desire to see them come into the Kingdom. You love to turn Your enemies into friends. Thank You that You did that in my life. Please do it in the lives of others.
In Jesus Name
The trip to Guatemala to serve with Eyes Wide Open Ministries went great. Daniel and Brandi McIntyre and the interns that serve under them are as faithful as any people that I have ever served with. One of our members here Tinsley Gregg went with me. While there we had the opportunity to minister and preach in two churches. We had a Conference for Pastors at the awesome facility that God has provided for Eyes Wide Open Ministry. There were 34 Pastors that came. More than that the Holy Spirit came in a very special way. Thank you for praying for us. We love you all!