Most of us can tell of bad experiences, when someone has done us wrong: lying, cheating, stealing, hurting, ruining. In our Bible study group, we can share real-life events, holding them up in the light of the written Word. Do you have a time and a place where you can give and take, in an atmosphere of holy confidence ? Especially when other people are behaving “unjustly” or “perversely” toward us, it is a great blessing to be surrounded with encouragement. Left to ourselves, it is so easy to just pray for God to burn up those wicked people ! But we may learn better ways to cope with the trauma and stress of living in this world.
In John’s gospel, as in Matthew, Mark and Luke, we read how Peter swore he would stick with Jesus no matter what— even to death… and then we see how Peter denied that her even knew Jesus, three times. Wicked !
In The Acts of the Apostles (chapter 9), we read how Saul of Tarsus approved when they stoned St. Stephen to death, and then how Saul went on to persecute the church. Wicked !
I find it really instructive, in Acts chapter 4, how the church prayed when the authorities persecuted them unjustly:
they raised their voices together to God and said,
“Sovereign Lord, Who made the heaven and the earth,
the sea, and everything in them…
For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to Your servants to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
Notice that, in their prayer, they ask three things of God:
1) Look at their threats (wickedness),
2) grant us boldness to speak Your word, and
3) You heal and perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.
Notice that we, ourselves can pray this way in the face of any wickedness that worldly people do to us.
Notice that we can pray this prayer while forgiving— letting go of— the sins and loving the sinners (as Jesus told us to do).
Let go and let God.
Who can predict whether sinners will turn from their wicked ways ?
Only God knows.
I am so thankful for the story of Jesus accepting Peter back, in John 21 !
I am so thankful for the story of Jesus (through the bold, forgiving love of a guy named Ananias) receiving that mean old persecutor Saul into his service !