In our hyper divided nation where people get so angry at their opponents or even people on the street or grocery line, the below daily reflection, really struck a chord with me. The human reaction to our enemies or opponents is to get even, or to destroy them in some way, but God’s way is to heal, and forgive, to bring our enemies into the fold. The apostles were not so different from us. When they wanted to pass through a Samaritan town, and the Samaritans refused to give the disciples entrance to pass through, one of Jesus’ disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to smite the Samaritans. Jesus told them to hold off. Jesus had a different plan in mind for them.
The story made me thing of today’s culture. How often do we react this same way? I could easily see myself reacting the same way as the disciples did. How quickly we react with our human instincts to rebel, fight back, or try to “get even” with those who oppose us. Rather God calls us to pray for our enemies and treat them as we would a fellow Christian or family member. No one is lost in God’s eyes, even though from our perspective our enemies seem like a lost cause.
The scripture below comes to mind.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)
The below story CLEARLY demonstrates this and it gives me pause to consider how quickly we can all be to act with our human instincts rather than to operate by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit to be God’s hands and feet in this divided world.
“Would You not have us call down fire?” —Luke 9:54
Near the end of Jesus’ public ministry, Samaritans would not allow Jesus and his disciples to pass through their town because they were headed toward Jerusalem. St. John the Apostle asked Jesus if he could call down fire from heaven to “destroy” those Samaritans (Lk 9:52-54). Jesus refused him, reprimanding John on the spot (Lk 9:55).
Jesus did eventually allow John to call down fire from heaven onto the Samaritans. St. Philip had taken the gospel in power to the unbelieving Samaritans, and they received the Good News (Acts 8:5ff). “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two…prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-15). John laid his hands on those whom he had earlier wished to incinerate, and the fire of God, the Holy Spirit, did fall upon them to consume them with the love of God (Acts 8:17). Jesus gave John his wish, but not in the way John had expected.
Are there any individuals or groups of people whom you wouldn’t mind having God remove from earth? Can you imagine if Jesus eventually used you as His agent to bring these people into new life in the Spirit? If we are to love our enemies, we need that same conversion John experienced. Repent! Forgive and love your enemies (Lk 6:35). “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).
Prayer: Jesus, send the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn away the hardness in my heart. May I lead thousands to receive the Spirit.
Promise: “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” —Zec 8:23
Praise: During an elevator ride, James took the opportunity to witness to a stranger about Jesus.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
(Spend three days getting closer to Jesus with a study of the Gospel of Luke, Oct. 13-15. This retreat will be held at our retreat center in beautiful Adams County, Ohio. Call 513-373-2397 or email [email protected].)