In June 2009, the Long family woke up to their worst nightmare. Their 23-year-old son, a private in the U.S. army, had been gunned down by an Islamic terrorist on American soil. They were shocked, grieved, and angry. Yet in the midst of their mourning, this family did the unthinkable.
After receiving the money left to them by their son, the Longs dedicated a portion of it to help reach Muslims for Christ. They said: “We can think of no better way to honor God than to use part of the money he left us to reach the unsaved Muslim people.”
From an earthly perspective, the Longs would have been justified in seeking revenge. Yet they chose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, loving the very people who had killed their son.
Read Matthew 5:43-48 and 10:16-20. Jesus has called all of us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As Christ faced opposition and persecution from this world, so will we, which is why Jesus warned us that He was sending us out “like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Yet Jesus did not say, “I’m going to protect you from the wolves.” Instead, he said, “I am commissioning you to go to the wolves.”
Jesus sends us out into this hostile world knowing exactly what we are made of--He knows our weakness and vulnerability. Yet He does not send us out alone. Our Lord promises to be with us always (see Matthew 28:20). He promises that nothing can separate us from His love, and that even if we do pay the ultimate price for our faith, it is better to be with Him (see Romans 8:35, Philippians 1:23). And as He sends us to the enemies of the cross with the Good News of the Gospel, His power transforms ravenous wolves into obedient sheep--terrorists into saints.
Jesus knows that the eternal destiny of the terrorist is more important than the earthly comfort of His people. He calls all of us to love our enemies, even those who persecute us. In this worthy but risky task, we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Our response to persecution must not be cowering fear or bitter retaliation, but rather prudent proclamation--the discerning declaration of the Good News.
Prayer: Father, help me to see people as You do, remembering that I, too, was at enmity with You, but by Your grace have received salvation and redemption. May those opposed to Your Gospel also receive the gift of Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
Check out more from Dr. Youssef, here!