You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Many of the people we come across on our various frontlines struggle with life. Behind the smiling masks are relationship breakdowns, bereavement, debt, addictions, worry and fear. The workplace is not always a safe place to let anyone see behind the mask – especially if that painful situation is then relayed, with embellishments, down the office grapevine.
Yet the workplace and other frontlines are our places of ministry – where we are brought into contact with hurting, sinful men and women, and given opportunities to bind wounds and wash feet. Of course, it takes time to love our neighbours, especially when everyday life is so task-focused and hectic. Giving people time and a confidential ear can be costly.
Eugene Peterson puts the challenge this way in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (IVP):
‘Every day I put love on the line. There is nothing I am less good at than love. I am far better in competition than love. I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark than I am at figuring out how to love another. I am schooled and trained in acquisitive skills, in getting my own way. And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself up to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.’
The power of love is most evident not when we love those who are loveable, but when we love the people that, in the eyes of the world, we should naturally despise. Yet to love those who may wound, hurt or reject us is to make ourselves vulnerable. Each day the challenge of loving is to allow the love of God to flow through us, expressing forgiveness and compassion instead of responding in kind. Why do we do this? ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). And his love has the power to heal our wounds and drive out our fears.
On 11 February we launch our fourth prayer pathway, ‘The Power of Love’. Together we will explore the power of God’s love flowing through us to others. Join this exciting prayer journey!
Bev is the PrayerWorks project leader and an associate speaker with LICC. As a management trainer and coach she specialises in the areas of leadership, team dynamics and stress, and is the author of Insight into Stress (CWR, 2006).