"27 But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [[a]in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred,
28 Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]."
Luke 6:27-28Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
Footnotes: Luke 6:27 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
These last few days have been unordinary, difficult and frustrating; but, they have also given me an even greater understanding of this scripture and the power of a blessing.
So, Saturday, I went with Catch The Fire (the church I'm currently attending) on and evangelism outreach to the middle of London. We went into London with one agenda: to show people God's love. We wanted to bless people and be physical manifestations of Jesus and His love. So, I was paired with an incredible young lady who is on fire for Jesus. As a group we prayed and then the two of us went on our way, expectant to see God do some incredible things.
Within the first 15 minutes, we were approached by a man trying to sell something. After saying that we weren't interested, we began to ask him questions… 'What's your name? How long have you been in London? Etc.' As we were asking him questions, Holy Spirit shows me that this man has a daughter. So, I ask. He seems oddly surprised and tells me yes. Then, proceeds to pull out his phone and is just illuminating as he shows us his daughter who is the youngest of three, the two older children being boys. It was really incredible because God had shown me all of these specific things that this man does with his daughter. So, I asked, 'Do you take your daughter out for surprise dates? Give her big hugs and have night time cuddles?' And, other more specific things. He looks at me really confused and says, 'actually yes.' So, I explain to him how/why I knew those very specific things about his life; and, that's when I started to tell him about how much God loves him, that He loves him in the same way that he loves his daughter. The man stopped me and says, 'I'm muslim.' In this moment (with this statement), he is expecting rejection, anger, and basically a totally shut down on my part. But, my response was, 'That's alright. We just want to tell you that God loves you.' He was so shocked and partially confused because every negative expectation that he had was shattered by the love of The Father in that moment. Then he said (knowing I'm American), I'm from Pakistan. 'Yea, I just want to stand in the gap for my country and say, I love the people of the Middle East and so does God. And, I want to see peace in your country.' Again, he was shocked. It was an unbelievable and beautiful moment. God was pursuing His people with love and passion. He was breaking down the walls of judgment and division with His love. I said, 'We aren't here to argue. We are here to love. We'd like to pray for you and bless you if that's alright.' This man let us pray for him and bless him, his life, and his country. Everyone walked away in smiles; and we especially were just astounded by the love of God for the Middle East!
Talk about an amazing start! After, we prayed for about four or five more people.
-He was touching hearts.- So, we moved from one square to another. Again, we arrived with the same objective. Love. My partner and I set out again and we were praying and asking Holy Spirit what to do when we see a man handing out tracts. We both felt pulled towards him and felt like we were just supposed to go and bless this man and his ministry. So, we go over and began chatting with him. He was really encouraged to see young people out telling people about Jesus. Then, we prayed for him. He was so touched that he actually asked us to pray for him again. Everything was seemingly cheery and this man was seemingly encouraged and joyful when like the flip of a light switch this man started yelling at me. Yea, so remember, this is the self proclaimed evangelizing Christian who is now yelling at me. I looked at my friend and as she was interceding I basically was just trying to get this man to calm down. He started to say some very negative and nasty things to me. He was being very verbally aggressive and eventually this man stomps off.
Right. So, my friend and I look at each other and at the same time we said, 'What in the world just happened?'. It was really shocking because it came out of nowhere and didn't make sense.
It started raining so we went inside of a coffee shop. I started feeling all of the spiritual oppression. I wanted to cry. I felt sick. I knew that these were not my feelings that it was just some punk called the devil trying to take me out of the game. So, we stopped and prayed for a few minutes and I started to feel better.
After, we got in the car to head to a worship night. I started to feel so nauseous that I didn't even care how cold it was, my window was opened the whole way. We were praying and I would feel better for a moment but then had to go back to practically sticking my head out the window. When we got to the church I felt Holy Spirit say, 'Worship until you feel better.' I entered into the presence of God through worship. It worked. I mean of course it worked right. In God's presence those petty attacks can't stick around. That's when I heard Holy Spirit say, 'Bless that man who cursed you today.' I kind of opened my eyes and looked around for a second. Then, I closed them again and thought… Alright, here it goes. I'll tell you what, in the power of Holy Spirit I started to bless this man. It was like I had known him my whole life. I was crying out for him. I prayed for his family, his job, his home, his finances, his ministry. I just kept blessing this man until I couldn't any more. That was when I physically felt a freedom come over me from the oppression that started coming my way that afternoon.
This is when God really started to dig in teaching and widening my understanding on the power of a blessing. I could have walked away saying, 'I hate religion. I can't stand people like that. Why is this man ministering? Blah. Blah. Blah.' Which, let's be honest, if he talked to you the way he talked to me 99% of us would be in that boat. But, God wants us to remember the reality -HE LOVES THAT MAN- and, he wants the best things for his life.
And GOD SAYS, Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].
Seriously, this stuff… It will set you free.
I've heard this scripture preached before… I've heard people say, 'We need to be the bigger person and bless those who hate us.' But, it's not about that at all. It's not about being 'bigger' or 'better'. It's about humbling ourselves. It's about saying, love is bigger; and, in God's love I want you to have the best things in life! In God's love I want to see you succeed! We so often want to make it about 'them', but I want to challenge you and say it's actually about us!
So, Sunday I go to church. In between being in the car and going to the coffee shop, my phone goes missing. The last place I remembered having it was in the car; so, I'm calm, cool, and collected. After I had my coffee, I go to the car to search for it. I can't find it. Then, I find a friends phone to call my phone during my search and….. straight to voicemail. So, what does that tell me? Well, it tells me someone had stolen my fully-charged and fully-functioning phone. I don't know how. I don't know where, but it's gone. So, I start to get a little nervous, annoyed, and frustrated. Especially since it's pretty much my only connection to home. Then, I start thinking about everything that had happened the previous day. Then, I remember, oh my goodness I'm supposed to be going to the middle of nowhere all this week. I'm thinking, 'The timing couldn't have been worse'.
I felt the need to just go outside and breathe for a moment. So, even in the cold I go out and sit on a bench and I ask God, 'What do I do? How do I respond? Help.' Then, I'm taking deep breathes and say 'Help me God' just in case he didn't hear me the first time. I hear Him say, 'Bless that person who took your phone.' So, I did. I prayed for them. I prayed that whatever situation they were going through that they would see the favor of God. That their finances would increase by ten fold. That they would have everything they needed and more. That they would live the most blessed week they had ever lived in their lives. That the Holy Spirit would just come over them and baptize them in the love of God. That when they touched the phone they would have powerful encounters of love. (I mean they took God's phone right.) Again,
I felt myself being freed. There is so much power in a blessing.
So, I continue on with joy, freed from the spiritual attack on my life and on my emotions. It was incredible. Someone offered me a phone to use temporarily until I get a permanent one. People started praying that I would be provided with an upgraded phone. YES!!! I'm all excited and expectant to see what God provides.
So then, I think it was monday, I had a conversation with a friend that had left me feeling really attacked. It wasn't this person's intention by any means, but that's what I had been feeling by the end of it. I felt frustrated and sad. I started to pray and God said, 'Bless them.' And when I did, AGAIN I was freed of the emotions and hurt I had been feeling.
That's when I started this blog. Everything was flowing; and, what God was speaking was just so powerful. I had been writing until about 1:30 in the morning and just like that… my whole blog was deleted. (Don't worry. I just pressed the save button about a hundred times.) I stared at my computer screen and thought, 'this can't be happening right now.' But, instead of being disappointed, I prayed, I blessed my computer (automatically), and I heard Holy Spirit say, 'Start over.' Yea, so, until about 3 that morning I was retyping about half of what I had already written. It's incredible how the circumstances of a situation completely change when you bless whatever it is that is happening.
There is SO MUCH POWER IN A BLESSING.
But love your enemies and be kind and do good [doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them] and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense, and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked. Luke 6:35
Jesus wasn't teaching us how to 'rise above' or some religious practice. He was teaching us how to be sons of the King. He was teaching us the culture of The Kingdom of Heaven. He was teaching us the character of God. He was saying, When I am hated, I love. When I am cursed, I love. When I am misused, I love. He was teaching us the power of the cross before he had even died on it. He was saying, I'm giving you the power to be like me and love like me.
I want to be so sure of who I am that I am unshakable and unoffendable. I want to stand on God's word and invoke His blessings on people this year. This is the year to fearlessly enter into relationships because His love can overcome any hurt. This is the year that nothing will shake me or my emotions. This is the year that God will help me bless every person that curses me or hurts me. This is the year to live even more fully as a child of God.
I feel like God is challenging me year to change my speech, my responses, my instincts.
Challenging me to step even more into my identity as a child of God.
Challenging me to love like I've never loved before.
Challenging me to give it all, even when I don't feel like I have any more to give.
It's the year to live so radically in the love of God that we see the culture of the world change more and more to look like the culture of the Kingdom.
It starts with us.