MANY PASTORS of today have misunderstood and taught various passages of Scripture out of context, thereby making most Christians do things that are contrary to sound teachings of Christ Jesus and the foundational apostles, who were used to establish Christian doctrines. One of such things is the retributive prayers that are offered these days against one’s perceived enemies.
Erring pastors often quote these passages of Scripture: “Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you… (2 Thessalonians 1:6), “Alexander the Coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2Timothy 4:14) and “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me” (Luke 19:27).
Clearly, none of the scriptural quotations above urges Christians to curse or pray for the destruction or death of their perceived enemies. They simply give us exhortation about God’s righteous judgment when Jesus returns. On that day, God will repay all enemies of Christ and His Church including persecutors and those who would not want Jesus to reign over them with affliction according to their works; they will be thrown into the lake of fire to suffer eternal damnation.
However, as we live in this world, Jesus Christ instructed true Christians to love their enemies. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).
In fact, Jesus was truthful, faithful and honest with His own teachings. He lived His own words and avoided a life of hypocrisy and contradiction. And so Peter bore witness that when Christ suffered He never threatened, that is, when He was insulted, arrested, spat upon, humiliated, tried, sentenced and crucified, He never wished that His enemies died without giving them the opportunity to repent and be saved.
Even while hanging on the cross in great anguish as blood oozed Him, the Lord Jesus Christ showed great compassion and mercy to those who crucified Him, and prayed a prayer of forgiveness for them. “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Clearly, you can see that Christ does not pay evil for evil, and His true ministers would also not inspire believers to pray against their perceived enemies as it is being done these days. Only false apostles, prophets, evangelists, bishops do these things to dent the image of Christianity to make it unattractive for people to believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation; they pray for their enemies to die in their sins.
It appears these counterfeit pastors learn from the Old Testament ministers who ignorantly followed some of the erroneous teachings of Moses. Remember the series of erroneous teachings Jesus Christ corrected as recorded in Matthew 5:38, 39, 43-45. Thus pastors who follow Jesus and learn from Him never pray that their enemies die in sin. Rather, they pray that they will repent and be saved. We must all recall that we were once enemies of God, but God had mercy and saved us.
Little wonder, Stephen, one of the seven deacons, even in his moment of death, went on his knees and pleaded for the souls of those who killed him. He prayed a similar prayer the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for His killers and mockers. What do these tell us? Simple! It tells all of us that Stephen was a disciple of Jesus, and he diligently learnt from Him.
Similarly, the apostle Paul would not pray to God to kill his enemies. He also had learnt from Jesus Christ and so wrote to instruct Christians in Rome saying, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…Repay no one evil for evil… Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
“To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14-15, 19-21).
The mistake many pastors in our day have made is their inability to interpret passages of scripture in the light of the message of grace and truth which Jesus Christ and His early apostles presented. These pastors quote scriptures and teach them out of context to lead immature believers astray.
Now, if Stephen had cursed or prayed for the death of those who stoned him to death, Paul would not have been called into ministry to write 17 books of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ called Paul after he had supervised the gruesome murder of Stephen, and was still scheming to get more believers arrested and severely punished for their faith in Jesus.
And if Paul had cursed or prayed for the death of those who arrested, mocked, flogged and stoned him, he would not have had the courage to instruct Christians in Rome and elsewhere to never pay evil for evil. Paul suffered greatly as an apostle, but he never cursed his attackers; he simply left everything for the judgment of God.
By James Quansah