December 5 I Monday
1 John 4
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” —1 Peter 4:8
There once was a man born amongst the Afar people, a Muslim tribe within the nation of Ethiopia. When he converted to Christianity, according to some of their interpretation of the Quran, his family members attempted to put him to death. Even his own uncle tried to drown him by holding him under water because of the shame that he brought to their family. Miraculously, when his uncle had left with the other tribesmen, this man survived that ordeal. At that moment, he had a decision to make: he could either write off his entire tribe and move to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, and start a new life or he could remain with his tribe and again risk being killed as he continued to share the gospel with the people that he grew up with.
If we were standing in this man’s shoes, contemplating between these two choices, which option would we take? Out of fear of being persecuted again, we may choose a comfortable life in Addis Ababa. Yet, the choice that this man ended up making embodied what Paul said to Timothy: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). God did not give this man a spirit of fear but of power and it is through this power that he was able to return to his tribe. In fact, he was able to see the very uncle who attempted to drown him give his own life to Christ as he heard the gospel from this man’s lips and the uncle is now one of the leaders of the church.
We not only see God’s power displayed but also God’s love. When people curse us, we bless them. Why? Because God’s power allows us to love, as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount saying, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44).
One of the heroes of the faith, Martin Luther King, Jr., was incarcerated 29 times for civil disobedience or trumped-up charges that officers came up with. In the midst of his persecution, because of the colour of his skin, he penned these words in his prison cell: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The Spirit that God gives us is one of power, not shrinking back, and one that meets hatred with love. Like the man from Ethiopia and Martin Luther King, Jr. may we overcome fear with God’s power and drive out hate with God’s love.
Prayer: Almighty God, by Your power, I can overcome fear, and by Your love, I can drive out hate. Open my heart and empower me to meet hatred with Your love. Thank You, Lord.