Great Plains Daily Devotional for 1/11/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Laurel UMC
Logan Center UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Bristow UMC
Lynch: First UMC
Spencer UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Lyons, NE Memorial UMC
Oakland First UMC
Elkhorn Valley District
Madison, NE Trinity UMC
Norfolk Westridge UMC
Elkhorn Valley District

Today's Lectionary Text

Luke 6:27-31

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Today's Devotional

In my last article Dec. 30, I pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic has earned all the negative descriptions awarded to it and has effectively become a universal adversary and enemy. Imagine someone who has committed a crime against you or your family. Imagine noisy neighbors who cause you and your young family strife and sleepless nights from drunkard parties and such and you cannot afford to move. Imagine people who discriminate against you for your religious or political beliefs, your race, national origin, and anything else you can think of. I am asking you to stretch your minds to imagine those members of society you just know you would not find common ground on anything; those are the enemies and adversaries.
Digging deeper, the Luke passage above compels us to love these people, even pray for them and turn the other cheek despite their having reigned havoc on our lives. I bet you are looking for some exceptions or some fine print that say otherwise. There is not. This is a mandate to love our enemies. The obligation even goes beyond that and requires us to be concerned about whether the basic hierarchy of needs of our enemies such as food, shelter and safety are met. You can agree that there is a high degree of difficulty in reconciling the emotions around loving our enemies. Disobeying God’s instruction, his mandate for us damages our relationship with God. God broke the wall which existed between us and Him by sending his only Son Jesus to reconnect us back to him through his birth, death, and resurrection. What is our contribution to Him if we cannot support or follow the directives to love our enemies as he loved us, as unworthy and sinful as we are?

Jesus taught his audience and followers to love their enemies: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Matthew 5:44-45) Jesus teaches us not to be against our enemies but to do good regardless. As much as we pray against the negative effects of coronavirus, Jesus reminds us of a resolution in this new year to pray for our adversaries. It is a difficult and painful thought to kneel down and pray for our enemies when we reflect on the hurts, disappointments, injuries caused, and the impediments thrust our way by them. Jesus calls us to do good to those who hate us, perhaps for no reason, to speak blessings to those who cause heartaches and sleeplessness nights to us regardless of the circumstances. There are no exceptions, no fine print, no disclaimers. 

After reading the teaching and the instruction to loving our enemies, I can imagine some stuffing cotton balls into their ears and do not want to hear such because it is a difficult proposition to follow. The Holy Spirit always reminds us that we too are adversaries to those we regard as enemies. The best way to absorb and apply this teaching is to realize that we ourselves are not perfect. We could easily be thorns in other people’s sides and they too must learn to love us.

God wants us to connect with one another and exist in harmony, peace, and love with one another on this planet. God destroyed the hostility among us when prophet Isaiah said: “6The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) It is unbelievable to perceive oneness without contention within these living animals. If the lamb, leopard would sleep with their prey, goat, and the rest of the mentioned animals, we can all strive to practice what Jesus said, loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us. Lastly the saying, “What goes around comes around is fulfilled in Jesus’ words: “31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) We all play a pivotal role in our daily living, doing good to all people. If we mistreat people, it will come around us one way or the other along life’s way. Therefore, our obligation is to follow the master’s word to: “Love our enemies and pray for them.” Above all we pray against all things that cause hostility among us.” (Matthew 5:44)
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington and Solomon Yoked Parish

Prayer for Reflection

O God we have failed you so many times and grieved the Holy Spirit through our sins. We have hated instead of loving. Teach us to pray and bless our enemies in our faith walk. Amen!



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