This is a time that people all over the world are becoming more aware of spiritual realities than at almost any time in my life. Why? Because we are facing a global health crisis unlike anything since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920. Infecting over 500 million people, that pandemic caused between 50-100 million deaths! (50,000,000-100,000,000)
In the current crisis, as of April 4 reliable reports are that more than 1.2 million (1,200,000) have been infected and more than 65,000 have died. If there is a silver lining, it is that over 250,000 have recovered, meaning the death rate and toll will likely be much smaller than the Spanish Flu, but it is still a life-changing event in our generation. And the numbers of those infected and deaths are suspect, even though from “reliable” news sources. The media can only report what governments give them for data. They could be much higher.
At Joel Rosenberg’s website, he reports on a survey his organization commissioned for McLaughlin and Associates to conduct here in the USA. To summarize a couple of points, almost half of the respondents see this global health crisis as supernatural intervention in world affaoirs, just shy of the number who believe God has nothing to do with it. Most interesting is that of the non-Christian respondents 22% of them acknowledge looking for answers in the Bible or online Christian/spiritual resources. (See above bar chart.) You can view the details of the survey here:
It is vital that the Church seize this opportunity to invite, educate and guide the spiritually hungry. But what of the 63% of non-Christian respondents who say this crisis has not changed their interest in spiritual things?
We must pray for them, also. And note, we must learn to pray FOR them, not against them. In the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45
This is not an easy thing for many of us to get our minds around, but praying FOR our enemies is on Jesus watch list to see if we are becoming sons and daughters of our Father. More on loving your enemy can be found at .
But this is not just a New Testament idea. Jesus prefaced His command with, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” (Matthew 25:43) We have no Scripture that uses this dictum, but it was likely a saying of the Zealots. The Dead Sea Scrolls show the Qumram community was taught to “love all the sons of light … and hate all the sons of darkness,”
However, the God of the Old Testament made the same demand on the Jews of history as Jesus was calling His disciples to. Leviticus 19:34 called on them to love the stranger among them as they love themselves. And in the Law, Exodus 25:4-5 called on the Hebrew to help his enemy, even though it was someone he hated.
Then Solomon came along and penned this poetic advice regarding one’s enemy:
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and Yahweh will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)
For a long time, I thought this meant that if I was kind to an enemy, heaping coals of fire on his head would mean I reeeaally “got him good!” By being kind, I was going to make him so miserable, he would see the error of his ways. You know, really stick it to him!
But then a wiser man than me pointed out that fire was a valuable commodity in Solomon’s day. No pilot on a gas stove; no matches from the Safeway store; no camp-fire lighters at Dick’s Sporting Goods. When you finally started a fire with sticks and twigs and lots of elbow grease, you kept it going as long as you were home. You saved embers each day so the next day the fire could burn bright again for cooking food or purifying your knife or warming yourself and family against the next night’s cold.
The movies make it look so simple as though anyone could start a fire to mount on a catapult and attack an enemy. But I challenge you to go outside when the weather has been nice and dry and try to start a fire the way Solomon’s servant would have. Fire was a precious product, not one you would likely share with an enemy.
When you gave some “fire” to someone, it likely would not be a burning stick, but embers from your fire pit. Carrying it in front of you would result in the sparks flying into one’s face, so they would load the precious heat into a pot or basket that could be carried on one’s head. Now, if that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is! “Heap burning coals on his head!”
So Jesus reaffirmed the love of God in the Old Testament, and told us to pray FOR our enemies. Now, who is your enemy? Muslim terrorists? Hindu nationalists? A superstitious shaman? How about Nancy Pelosi? Donald Trump? Chuck Schumer?
Bring it closer to home, the guy who cut you off at the light? A rude neighbor? A boss? A smelly coworker? A family member?
We are to pray FOR them, not against them. So I wonder, who are you praying FOR during this crisis? Next week we will look at HOW do we pray FOR someone evil or with whom we thoroughly disagree.