View Full Version : Loving those who persecute you
10-11-2008, 04:22 AM
It is interesting, looking back on my life I can see that some of the most painful experiences I have had, have been a result of religious institutions and/or individuals in those different churches. This has ranged anywhere from the general condemnation coming from religious institutions -- which has led to a closeted life filled self-hatred -- to hurtful words and actions from individuals within the church.
Only through the grace of God have I finally come to peace with my self, realizing His unconditional love for me, just the way I am. I myself am at peace in this knowledge (after years of self hatred brought on by religious condemnation, as well as judgment from society). It seems silly that I was blinded from this simple truth all along - laughable, even. Although, I know it is no laughing matter for many still on this journey to realization.
After this revelation I am finding it very easy to love my neighbors, friends, strangers, and myself. With my human nature, however, I am finding it quite a struggle to love those who persecute me, those who are hateful, those who are convinced they are "right" and everyone else is wrong. I am finding it hard to love my 'neighbor' who told one of my dear friends that she was not a "Good Christian" because she considered me one of her best friends, and I was a homosexual.
I desperately want to unconditionally love these people, as God has called us to. Instead, I have been quickly jumping to anger and casting judgment upon them.
My question is, how have others learned to go about loving those who are hardest in life to love? Has it been a struggle for you? Did you find it best not to argue with these people that you disagree with, and just act lovingly by respecting them and praying for them instead?
Interested hearing your thoughts.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" Matthew 5:44
"Bless those who persecute you. Keep on blessing them, and never curse them." Romans 12:4
10-11-2008, 08:20 AM
I don't think it ever is easy to love one's enemies. For me it is hard to treat nicely those who are unkind to me. I struggle with that.
I look to my mother when I need inspiration. More than anyone I have ever met, she can treat others nicely even when they have been unkind in some way. I have noticed that almost always people treat her with respect and listen to her opinions.
I continually remind myself that God has forgiven me EVERY time I have been selfish, unkind or rude. If God can do that, I can at least make an attempt to show love and forgiveness to others.
Plus I also find that when people are unkind to me and I am nice to them in return, it really takes the wind out of their sails.
10-11-2008, 08:32 AM
Like you Emily, I also experienced that same hatred growing up; those who preach love, yet are filed with hate. These days it's the people who openly support Prop 8 in California that I have a very hard time with. I drive for a living, and whenever I pass a car with a "Yes on 8" bumper-sticker, I become immediately defensive and ready to pounce! It takes a lot of prayer and talking to myself to try and regain balance. I have found that by saying a prayer and blessing for those in support of 8 actually helps. I pray that they may be able to see what they are truly supporting and not be misled by the lies behind it.
Most principles in Christian and other faiths teach ideas that seem contrary to human nature: Give to receive, offer love for hate, turn the other cheek or use something that is poison as medicine. Trying not to judge those who judge others is an area that I still need a lot of help with.
10-11-2008, 08:56 AM
Thanks for your replies Pablo and Nick. Those are some interesting insights.
That's great to hear about your mom. It's so true the people I have known in my life and have had the utmost respect, are people that have been loving and slow to judge.
I like your quote, "Most principles in Christian and other faiths teach ideas that seem contrary to human nature: Give to receive, offer love for hate, turn the other cheek or use something that is poison as medicine." It is funny how these principals do seem contrary to human nature, yet, when acted out, we can totally experience the truth behind them. All seem to promote a sense of selfless-ness, and regarding others as we would regard ourselves, as we all come from the same creator, and are all equal.
Finally, on the subject of anger, I found some interesting quotes. Though you may not agree with the teachings of Buddhism (or even know much about it), I hope that you can find some insight from the quotes, as I have.
"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves." Buddha
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." Buddha
10-11-2008, 12:15 PM
Buddha also teaches that forgiveness, true forgiveness may take years. That if someone rapes or kills or oppresses does not mean that we say:
"It's okay! I'm glad that you did that! You are forgiven. "
They, the trangressor, may be required to pay dearly and stern measures taken to prevent repeat transgression. And in the end, forgiveness is there also.
To forgive a transgressor before you are ready is betrayal of your heart. That is why it feels wrong to do so. These are two of the near enemies of the Dharma
"Om mani padme hum"
"The jewel (head) is in the lotus (heart)"
or the head and heart are not apart
These two must be in agreement to achieve awareness of compassion, your Buddha. If you use your head to betray your heart you lose your compassion for yourself and therefore for others.
So it is wrong to forgive before you are ready. There is nothing spiritually or personally deficient in not forgiving someone who makes you angry. You are pecisely where you are supposed to be spiritually.
Once you are able to achieve anger's true release by developing compassion for yourself first, and feel true compassion coming from your heart for your transgressor (without nausea), then it is time to forgive.
You cannot force this to happen.
10-11-2008, 12:28 PM
Wow, those are great words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing Scotty.
10-29-2008, 06:36 PM
The persecution that Jesus was referring to was for His name's sake. (Matthew 5:11-12) When you stand for the truth of God's word, you are going to be persecuted. That is a promise. But we can look to Jesus who withstood ultimate persecution to redeem us. And we can look to the promise of eternal life with Him.
The above mentioned persecution is different from the persecution that I have experienced as a black female. People may pick on me because I am black or my hair is in an afro. Jesus is not referring to traits or attributes that people don't like about you. He is talking about for His sake.
10-30-2008, 10:27 AM
I don't know if I agree with the separation, camdiddy. (Welcom to both of you, by the way.) The way I see it, the product of hate is the same whether it's because of Jesus or not. I tend to think our response should be the same regardless, both for the sake of ourselves and the community at large.
That said, it ain't easy, and I doubt there's a one-size-fits-all method, but best-you-can forgiveness is called for. I still struggle with forgiving people for awful stuff they did to me almost five years ago.
Oh, and I blogged about this yesterday (http://blog.mattalgren.com/2008/10/on-naming-and-un-naming/). (Why yes, I did just plug my blog!)
10-30-2008, 01:24 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by separation. There are different kinds of persecution. My answer to this was based on what the bible teaches about persecution suffered for the sake of Christ. Since the quote was loving those who persecute you, we must be sure what persecution Jesus was referring to, and not what we want it to be. I may be persecuted for being black, but that has nothing to do with persecution for the Gospel of Jesus. I thought that because a phrase was taken from the bible that the author of the thread wanted a biblical response. My mistake.
10-30-2008, 09:48 PM
These days it's the people who openly support Prop 8 in California that I have a very hard time with. I drive for a living, and whenever I pass a car with a "Yes on 8" bumper-sticker, I become immediately defensive and ready to pounce! It takes a lot of prayer and talking to myself to try and regain balance. I have found that by saying a prayer and blessing for those in support of 8 actually helps. I pray that they may be able to see what they are truly supporting and not be misled by the lies behind it.
Yeah, me too. I see the signs, hear the commercials and radio ads, and it makes me very angry. Once in a while I come across a 'no' sign and it makes me want to cry with relief. Just one is a huge relief in my neighborhood. Just a couple of days ago, I noticed one of our neighbors put up a Yes on 8 sign. Now, we live on a small secluded street, so I'm taking the sign personally, as it's definitely not meant for the casual passerby (we don't have those). Just this summer, we shared a neighborhood night out, shared dinner, talked and cooed over the children. I feel like these people ate my food and drew conversation out of me, and now they are telling me that they are voting to take away my civil rights. I'm furious. I don't want to say 'hate' but at this moment in time, I don't think I could ever spend an evening with that family again.
I'm trying to be patient, and kind, and loving and think positive thoughts. I don't wish anything bad, but I just don't feel as if I can have any kind of 'neighbor' relationship with them. It would just bring up all the bad feelings again. I'm really hurt over this. Any suggestions? How can I love these neighbors while they are going to vote on my rights and my marriage, while telling me and the rest of the neighbors that they feel I'm not as valuable a human as they are????
(Note, while I have 'Christian' based spiritual beliefs, I don't necessarily believe everything in the Bible and prefer my scripture to be read along with prayer and meditation, so quoting scripture here for me probably won't help me out).
11-12-2008, 07:34 PM
It's not easy for anyone to take a look at an enemy and forgive. As a matter of fact, I believe it's almost impossible for a person who doesn't truly have faith in themselves, and a little faith in others, to do. It's only a bigger person, someone who truly believes that humanity must be good at heart or good in some way, however flawed, who can really, truly forgive with all their heart.
Scotty makes a very good point - we obviously can't forgive everyone right away, because that's not right, either. So, perhaps the right thing to do is just to respect instead of hate. Sure, think what you will about the person, but be nice to them. The only way hatred can be destroyed is by showing kindness. Have faith in who you are, and harsh words have no meaning. :D
11-13-2008, 11:05 PM
I'm not sure if this helps but I've been able to cope a little better these last few weeks by remembering a few simple things. They may or may not work for others, but they seem to have helped me :-)
1) Remembering the simple fact that God loves us all unconditionally, and no matter what anyone says about us (whether it be an insult or compliment - words that hurt or words that boost self esteem), these are not a reflection of who we are in God's eyes.
2) Realizing that I have acted ignorantly towards others and have offended people throughout my life with, perhaps, good intentions (whether I realized it or not - I've certainly hurt others throughout my life). All of us have done this.
3) Trying to remember how much God loves these people. Sometimes if I have a hard time loving someone (and this may sound a bit silly), I imagine what it must have been like when they were born and their mother held them in their arms, and how much love she probably had for them. (again, a bit silly, but a reminder of God's unconditional love for all of us - no matter who we are or what we've done).
Finally, I found reading the "Soulforce Credo About My Adversary" sort of neat, and may particularly help with the Prop 8 issue:
A Soulforce Credo About My Adversary
1. I believe that my adversary is also a child of the Creator, that we are both members of the same human family, that we are sisters and brothers in need of reconciliation.
2. I believe that my adversary is not my enemy, but a victim of misinformation as I have been.
3. I believe that my only task is to bring my adversary truth in love (nonviolence) relentlessly.
4. I believe that my adversary's motives are as pure as mine and of no relevance to our discussion.
5. I believe that even my worst adversary has an amazing potential for positive change.
6. I believe that my adversary may have an insight into truth that I do not have.
7. I believe that one day my adversary and I will understand each other and that if we conduct our search for truth guided by the principles of love, we will find a new position to satisfy us both.
11-13-2008, 11:16 PM
P.S. Here are two other quotes that have been inspirational:
"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves."
"Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law." -Buddha
11-14-2008, 01:09 AM
Great advice, and great quotes New. I'll keep working on it. For me, it's more of a sadness, that someone could actually check yes to take away my civil rights. Perhaps a little indignation too. And if I'm honest, yes, some anger too. Maybe I'm more than a little angry.
I'll keep working on it. :pray::love:
11-21-2008, 10:38 AM
I'm feeling my anger (and despair) grow and grow as of late. Last night it hit me that hating people who hate is bringing me down to their level. I've always known this intellectually, but it really came to life as I saw myself feeding the vicious cycle. And the despair. There will always be hate in the world. It sickens and saddens me.
How do I love again? How do we love the "unlovable"? How can we "make" ourselves feel love when we just don't feel it? (Perhaps by faking it till we make it?)
12-01-2008, 01:21 AM
I too have this problem with loving those who insult me or have teased me. those who vote yes on 8 and those who believe that being gay is a sin. I think whats hard about it the fact that actions do speak louder than words, but its the action itself, of saying harsh words to someone thats even worse (does that make sense? lol). We do get mad when people seem like they don't care about how they treat you or what they are saying about you but yet were supposed to love them?! I think that we have to realize that some people won't change and there is no use in trying to convince them other wise. Some people don't have any empathy for those they hurt, so you can either live your life despising them or saying "okay, think what you want, I wish you the best" and be on your way. I honestly haven't gotten to that point yet.
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