This week I had the opportunity to travel to the United States for the first time in 1.5 years. It is hard to believe it has been so long since being in my home country, the land that I love.
The trip has been marked by several contrasts:
- Truly enjoying the wide American roads that could fit two of my tiny Italian cars side by side in a single lane.
- The USA is not at all like what the media makes it appear to be.
- In Italy everyone is wearing masks outside the home, in the USA, different.
- I’m reminded of the USA “down home” culture where people strike up conversations in an elevator, extremely friendly convenience store clerks call me “sugar” and genuinely ask “how’s your day going so far?”.
- Dining in restaurants open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (until late) in the US; something we’ve not experienced in Italy for I can’t remember how long.
- People share and talk about their faith in the US. In Italy they view this as very private, even the believers we’ve met struggle.
From a Christian faith perspective we face the contrasts when we wrestle with inner desires and the things that are acceptable in today’s culture vs. how Jesus tells us how to live. The culture promotes hating our enemies and getting revenge. As Christ followers, we are called to live according to God’s will, no matter what the culture says or does.
In Psalm 109 (specifically verses 6-15) David asks God for some serious smack-down on his enemies with great specifics! Such as for someone evil to oppose his enemy, for the enemy to be found guilty and die, for the enemy’s children to be homeless beggars and adverse impacts to happen upon generations. Check it out, David is not messing around!
Keep in mind that David leaves it to God to take action. David was a mighty warrior and King, but he sought to follow God and submit to His will. David certainly could have crushed his enemies and may even have been justified to do so (just like us). In the end, David asks these things for God’s glory. It is like the submission and right living when we abide by the words of Jesus:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44)
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for them so that we may become the people God made us to be. As we love our enemies we point to a loving God who first loved us even though we as sinners were enemies to God, yet saved through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. (Matthew 5:47)
Who are your enemies (people who have wronged you) and are you showing them the mercy and love God shows you time and time again? I repent as I’m guilty, yet thankful for a God of second chances and a new day to forgive and be forgiven.