When You Find Out You Have an Enemy

When I was growing up, even into high school and college, I would read psalms and other passages of Scripture and not be able to relate to when there were references to “enemies.”

I never had enemies. There was a guy that I didn’t really get along with for most of high school — God sent him to the same college as me to work that out — but other than that I didn’t have anyone that I hated and he/she hated me, or that there was tension between.

So I’d read things like this — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28) — I wouldn’t get it. It wouldn’t make sense.

That’s changed in the last year.

About one year ago, I did a series of stories on a hot topic in Lee County — I work for a North Carolina newspaper, for those of you that don’t know me. Everything was factual, accurate, well-researched and documented. I was proud of the work I did.

Almost instantly, for the first time in my life, I received an outpouring of backlash that’s continued to this day. People started giving me affectionate nicknames, like #FakeNewsZach or #NoFactZach, saying my reporting was #FakeNewsbyZacharyHorner. I had people who used to love me and praise me begin to fuss at me, call me a liar. I would say hello to people and they’d ignore me. They attacked my family. They spread lies about me and my family.

That’s about as much detail as I’ll go into here.

It really refreshed my view of verses like Psalm 5:8 — “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.”

When we’re attacked, when our enemies go after us, when we get maligned and lied about, it’s a chance for us to grow in righteousness. David, the writer of Psalm 5, pleads for God to lead him in righteousness because of his enemies. When we’re attacked, we have the opportunity to show others what a life filled with Christ looks like — integrity, honesty, steadfastness.

It’s not an opportunity for us to bite back, to criticize, to hold hateful attitudes. I admit freely that my heart has not always been in the right place, that I’ve said and thought rude and mean-spirited things about my “enemies.” It’s a tough thing.

But it’s my desire daily to try to kill those thoughts, those feelings. I’m trying. And that’s where Psalm 5:8 challenges me. I hope it challenges you too.

 

Advertisements

We Were Not Meant to Be Satisfied Here

A year ago, in a post on this blog, I wrote something that struck me as quite profound this morning:

Ultimately, anything claiming to be “good news” is going to promise similar things.

I hadn’t read the post since I had written it, but something about the way I phrased that hit me like a ton of bricks. Mainly because there have been many times in the ensuing 365 days I’ve given into the lies of the false “good news.”

The idea behind “good news” is that it’s a piece of information that promises to be good. It promises to bring hope, peace, joy, happiness, satisfaction. Those are all things the Gospel of Jesus offers through the forgiveness of sins, something so incredibly radical we can’t fully comprehend it. But there are many things in this world that proclaim themselves to be “good news” that really aren’t “good news,” but boy, do I buy into the lie. We buy into the lies.

Examples of that “good news”:

Sexual satisfaction. We think that through finding pleasure in sexual activity outside of marriage we will be satisfied.

Positive attention from people. We think that through finding acceptance from the people around us we will be satisfied.

Academic/work achievement. We think that through finding success in the classroom or in the workplace we will be satisfied.

There’s tons of “good news” out there. But as I looked through Luke 6 this morning, I found something quite peculiar. Jesus is talking to His disciples and says a couple things that struck me as odd for a moment. Verses 21 and 25:

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied…Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

I found it odd that I’d run across what I wrote a year ago and what I was looking at in the Scriptures this morning in the same day unless God was trying to teach me something. Maybe it is sheer coincidence, but it taught me a lesson that I needed to learn.

Blessed are those who are hungry now because they realize the things of this world cannot truly satisfy them and eagerly anticipate the arrival of what can truly satisfy: knowing God face-to-face. Heaven is the place where we will be truly satisfied, where there will be no tears, no pain. Heaven is the place where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new'” (Revelation 21:4-5a). 

Woe to those who are full now because they have sought their fill on this earth. They have bought into the lies of the earthly “good news” and have already found satisfaction in the things of earth. But that is not how it is supposed to be. We were never designed to find full satisfaction on earth.

Romans 8:23-25 says,

…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We wait for the full satisfaction of our desires with patience, because we know that it is coming. We know that Christ’s return is the culmination of all our hunger, all our longing. And it will be glorious.