Every morning it’s the same thing. Check work emails, then delete dozens of unwanted ones. Even with unsubscribing, they just keep coming. They’re like cockroaches: kill one, and 12 more come out of hiding.
Ever wish you could just delete people/memories/experiences/things you said? Yep, me, too. At times, I have secretly wished I could delete my enemies.
An epiphany was just shared with me that brought me an incredible insight. At a prayer retreat, a leader was working through the 23rd Psalm and she stopped at, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
I think when we hear that for the first time we are tempted to indulge in a revenge fantasy. It goes something like this: you’re in heaven, seated at the heavenly banquet. Peter is on your left, Paul on your right, and Mary is serving biscuits. (See what I did there? If you did, you’re OLD. But I digress.) God is at the head of the table, admiring the place settings and silverware. Suddenly the door opens, and IN WALKS YOUR ENEMY.
“Aha!” you think. “Whaddya think of me now, ready to eat this filet and lobster dinner while you stand there and salivate? Wish you had been nicer to me? Loser!”
>Add the sound effect for screeching brakes here. (Sorry, I’ve been in Atlanta too long. But I digress.)
So let’s back up to what might go down instead.
Suddenly the door opens, and IN WALKS YOUR ENEMY AND TAKES THE SEAT DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM YOU. Filet and lobster are placed in front of them, and they enjoy the heavenly banquet with the rest of the redeemed.
Lost your appetite?
Surely the Enemy and all who do evil in the sight of the Lord will never feast together at his table. But what of those earthly enemies who acted from selfish ambition, greed, immaturity, arrogance, jealousy, narcissism…those who hurt us and move on? Is there room at the table for them?
The parable of the vineyard workers suggests a scenario where the table set before our enemies just might be a peacemaking meal. Workers were hired at the beginning of the day for a set wage. Others were hired mid-day, and some came to work 5 minutes before quitting time. All received the same wage. The early-bird workers complained bitterly, and the vineyard supervisor replied:
Matthew 20 (The Message)
13-15 “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
16 “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
The Great Reversal. God will seat at the table whom he will seat. He owns the vineyard. As much as we would like to delete our enemies, God loves them. Remember, we look upon the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart. And when he finds repentance, he puts out another place setting.
What can you do today to set a peacemaking table before YOUR enemies? Would a phone call, an invitation to talk, a gentle word perhaps be the first step toward turning that enemy into a friend? Certainly we must pray for our enemies…that’s biblical!
Jesus said that the “kingdom of God is at hand.” It is in the here and now. We are invited to behave on earth as it is in heaven. If heaven includes feasting with our enemies, why not start now?
Sunrise by Michelle Robertson.