To tell the truth, it’s not always easy to sow the gospel, especially in Jewish hearts. When we sow the gospel on the streets, we face opposition in the form of anti-Semites, some of whom are members of the Russian Orthodox Church. We also face opposition from religious Jews.
I will confess to you that I’m not always overflowing with love when I’m scolded, spit on, or pushed while handing out gospel pamphlets. I’ve often found myself filled with indignation, “Why are people doing this?” I’d think. “This is life-giving news for them, but they don’t want to listen.”
Then I remember that Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father 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).
It’s not difficult to love those who are eager to hear the gospel, but I’ve had to ask the Lord many times to give me love for those who instead try to interfere with or persecute me. And He answers those prayers.
It’s very important, when facing opposition, not to relate to it personally, because the opposition is usually meant to counteract the gospel (or in the case of anti-Semitism, to show contempt for an entire people). It usually has very little to do with the person bringing the gospel.
Understanding that without Jesus, people are like lost sheep, helps me love even those who are hostile. I remember that the Lord loves not only believers, but the entire world, including those who oppose us. The Scriptures tell us clearly,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
When I recall how many sins Yeshua forgave me, I remember that it’s not because of my merit that I have the gift of eternal life. In God’s eyes I was no better than those I meet today, whose hearts resist the gospel. If I respond to their anger according to the flesh, I will not see the Spirit of God acting in those hearts. As people look at me, I really want them to see Yeshua (Jesus). But if I show anger and discontent, the only Yeshua they will see is the letters on my T-shirt.
Once a Jewish man named Leonid scolded me when I came to visit him. I was upset inwardly, but I said goodbye politely and left. I prayed long for him, but the next time I called him, he remained aggressive towards the gospel. On the third time, his aggression changed to interest and curiosity.
Praise the Lord, He does not allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear. The more time I spend with Yeshua in my prayer room, the more He fills me with His love, so that I can offer it even to those who oppose me. It is only when we look at people with the eyes of Yeshua that we understand their deep need for Him. The more room we give to Him in our lives, the more room we have in our hearts to love those who persecute us. And we will experience what Paul said when he wrote,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and thelife which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).