Rev. Chris Bowhay preached on a familiar passage this past Tuesday morning, Matthew 5:43-48 about loving and praying for your enemies. Chris even admitted that it’s one of the hardest things that Jesus asks us to do.
Chris next asked us to think about our own worst enemy, the person in our life who seeks us harm, either consciously and intentionally, or as collateral damage from a larger agenda. He asked, “Who is the one person, above all, who ever since you can remember has sought to trip you up, harm your relationships, damage your health, and get you into trouble?”
He said he wished that he’d remembered to bring some little slips of paper so that we could write down the name of the person and then at some time, we could open our papers and read the name of the enemy outloud.
My mind was running through a good 40 years trying to determine the WORST enemy so that I could write down only one name on that slip of paper.
Then Chris said, “Of course, when we read the names of our worst enemy, they will all be the same…..ourselves.”
He paused long enough for the meaning to sink in.
Of course, he was right, “Ever since we become aware of ourselves, we are our own worst enemy. Although some people think we should name the devil and Jesus spent plenty of time talking about him, few of us need the devil’s help to harm ourselves. Whether through sins of the flesh (eating, drinking, or sex) or through sins of the intellect and the spirit (envy, resentment, anger), this is our story.
We cannot stop ourselves; we cannot help ourselves.
The story of our life without God is one where we consistently find ourselves blinded and checkmated—stuck in the tedious patterns of thinking and living that lead us to harm.
Jesus says we must pray for our enemies. Therefore we must pray for ourselves, that God will deliver us from our self-destructive impulses.
We surrender ourselves to God who is not our enemy, but who loves us, has always loved us, shall always love us, and shall always seek the best, most unimaginable future for us.
We don’t invite him to just whisper in our ear which card we should play next of the ones we’ve been dealt, instead we place our faith in Christ that He will sit in our seat and play the game with us, preserving our next hand but also reclaiming all our lost winnings.
May you pray for your worst enemy today.
(click below for MP3 file)