Ben Kwashi, the Archbishop of Jos Province in Nigeria, brought a powerful message at New Horizon looking at “Unconditional Love for our enemies.” Here the NH Media Team brings you a summary of Ben’s message:
Reading from Matthew 5:43 – 48: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy but I say to you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you …”
It is difficult to unlearn what you have learnt. In 1987, Gloria had just travelled for a day. Her uncle died and she had to leave with our six-month-old baby. I was looking after our two and a half year old daughter. Later than evening a police officer came to me and said he had been mandated to evacuate me because my life was in danger.
We argued for a long time and when he saw that I was unwilling to leave my house, he called a friend of mine asked if I would stay with him. Later than night, the house was blown up and the church was burnt down completely and the following day we wer evacuated again to another military place where we lived for four weeks under guard. My daughter would say, “Daddy, why do the Muslims want to kill you? What did you do?” At that time, in three days, more than 100 churches were burnt down.
At that time, my daughter’s highest insult was to say, “You are a Muslim.” She grew up thinking that all the Muslims wanted to do was to kill Christians. But every night we would pray for the Muslims. Later, as soon as she qualified as a doctor her first port of mission call was in Niger amongst Muslims and the Muslims people knew her heart was for them. I reminded her about what she had said as a little girl. Her heart had been changed to love even those who would burn her church, her house and seek to kill her father.
The love of God is revolutionary. It is not a careless, sentimental, “I love you.” The love of God transforms, it changes you completely! When Jesus died on the cross carrying our sins and our burdens, he literally took our hatred, our bitterness, our lies and our unforgiveness into the grave. When He rose on the third day, He left those unwanted commodities in the grave. He came out triumphant bursting out with love!. God is LOVE!
When you hate, you are walking back into the grave to take what Jesus has already deposited there. When you say you will not forgive, you are going back to the grave and taking something that is like contraband in heaven! You cannot take hatred or lies or unforgiveness to heaven. If it is useless to God and to you so why carry it around?
The disciples had never heard anything like this. All they had heard was, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy” But we are looking at unconditional love that breaks down all barriers. Jesus said, “You have heard it said…” That’s how you have grown up. That’s what you know. That’s what you have learnt. Children are taught to hate people as enemies.
But Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Our trouble is that we don’t recognise who the REAL enemy is. The Bible talks about Satan as our enemy who prowls around as a roaring lion. If Satan is our real enemy, how did we get to the point where we look at another human being and say, “He is our enemy”?
We must receive the love of Jesus Christ
I plead with you. Be sure that you have accepted the love of God in your heart. Define the time and the moment when you decided to follow Jesus. You have to make that decision for yourself because the devil likes people who are living on assumptions. Everyone who will follow Jesus must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. There is no ambiguity about God. All who have received Jesus have experienced forgiveness and joy!
If Jesus is in your heart and you are listening to His word and growing in grace.. when the devil comes visiting, what will he meet? He will encounter love in your heart and he will have no space. When he comes to tempt you, you will say like Jesus, “But the word of God says…” then he will have no space.
If you do not say “Yes” to Jesus, you can say “Yes” to the devil anytime! The devil uses people who have not said Yes to Jesus, who do not love Jesus and who are antagonistic to Jesus.
Jesus has won the victory. We recognise that the REAL enemy is not our fellow human beings.
In 2006, I came to the UK to lead a mission with SOMA and I was elected President so I changed my flight to return the following day. That night apparently those who wanted to kill me knew when I should have arrived. At about 1.30 am I had a phone call from my daughter who thought Gloria and the children were in danger. Over 50 people were surrounding the house with machetes. They did despicable things to Gloria thinking I was in hiding and this would make me come out.
By 5.30am I was able to get through to my son who said she was blinded, cover in blood and had broken legs and ribs. They had taken her to the hospital. I got a flight and came home to see her there. Then I decided I would spent my first night back at the house while she was in hospital.
I cried to the Lord, “All of this should have been me but Gloria has taken it. Lord have mercy.” And I heard His voice speak to my heart asking, “Did you have phone calls?” I said, “Yes, from all over the world. People were calling. I could not handle my phone because there were so many phone calls.”
The Lord said to me, “Do you know that on your account, heaven’s gates have been bombarded with prayers because when the brethren in Europe go to bed, the ones in Australia wake up and start praying …” Then I said, “Lord I thank you.” And I was healed. The assurance of the love of God being with me through suffering. Even as they took Gloria from our house, she was bleeding and broken, a little boy by her side said “Mamma, pray for us.”
Satan creates barriers between you and other humans. Jesus is the cure to all enmity. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. And Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The love of God is shed abroad into our hearts. We are children of God. So love your enemies.. those you consider to be enemies.
It is difficult working in Jos. Ordinarily by human standards we would have left. As we have stayed on, we are seeing exciting things that God is doing. Yes, the killings continue but there are also miracles of love.
I have told my Muslim friends, “You are not my enemies. I know who my enemy is. He is using ISIS or anyone else to kill Christians.”
Jesus is the way, the truth and life. He is calling us to a revolutionary decision. A decision that will change lives, change environments and change the world!
Today, I pray that through the grace of God, we will make a decision to no longer see people as enemies because we receive the love of Jesus into our hearts so we will be open to all, including Judas who might kill us but we still love him all the same.
A few weeks ago one of the bishops was giving us an update on the bombings. I said,”We will not be deterred from loving people. Our hearts are full of so much love. We will love our killers. We will feed their children. We will hate nobody. In fact we have no room to hate because it is contraband, it is useless. It damages your own hearts. It is a commodity of hell.”
Embrace love and walk around with love, freedom, joy and peace. Love everybody, serve everybody and let them see the love of Jesus.
The power of love changes you. If you refuse to open your heart to the love of God, you are the one who is inhibited. You are creating the conditions, hurdles and problems.
Jesus love is very wonderful, oh wonderful love! So high you can’t get over it. So low you can’t get under it. So wide you can’t get round it.
It is not just singing. It is real. Tonight, experience that love for yourself and then you will see no enemies in human beings. You will know your REAL enemy is Satan.