By Shawn Kiger
Matthew 5:43-48 (NRSV)
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
I hear many people say these are scary times we live in. There are terror attacks and mass shootings. Millions of refugees are having to flee their homes because of war. Social media is full of answers of whom to blame and how to fix it. It’s hard to avoid all the negativity and fear. I don’t really know if there is more evil in the world now than when I was a teenager; but I know the teenagers of today are having to grow up during a time when they hear about it 24/7. It’s reported almost the instant it happens.
I do know that Jesus also grew up in a scary time. A king ordered the killing of all boys two years old and under in an attempt to kill Jesus. His family had to flee to save his life. Even when Jesus was older, there were still public executions and other horrible and scary things going on. Yet even in the midst of that, Jesus calls us to love our enemies and to pray for them for “he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good.”
Every week in small groups we ask our students where they have seen God at work that week. One reason I do this is to help them start to notice that God is at work in their lives. Another reason is so they start to see that good things are happening all around them everyday. Even when the news only reports on evil, God is at work in the good.
I saw an example of God at work this past Sunday. A family gave me an envelope before Sunday worship. I opened it and there was a note and a check thanking me for all I do with the youth and to use the money to help students who can’t afford to go on trips. About 15 minutes later a mother came to me in tears and said her son couldn’t go on our December mission trip because they didn’t have the funds. I was able to tell her that it had been taken care of. That may seem small compared to horrible terrorist attacks but it is an example of how God works through others and the church to change the world.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I hope you will notice that God is at work in the world even when it seems like evil is winning. I will continue to look for ways God is calling me to help those affected by evil, and I will thank God for all the good, both big and small, that I see happening all around me everyday.