“‘But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’” -Luke 6:27-28
Recently, missionaries Chris* (from the U.S.) and Jose* (from South America) were visiting the home of a Muslim friend in Eastern Europe.
While exploring the area and getting to know the family of their friend, Alexei, Chris and Jose learned more about a dark cultural custom. According to centuries-old traditions, it’s acceptable and even expected to avenge the death of a relative, whether in the current generation or the next.
Chris and Jose had heard of this tradition before, but they had never met anyone who followed it. Alexei, who was explaining the tradition, told the two that a relative of his was killed 13 years ago. That relative’s death would likely be avenged at some point.
Chris and Jose began explaining how this tradition was similar to a law in the Old Testament where an offender would pay “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:23-24).
However, Jesus took this law a step further by commanding forgiveness over revenge.
“‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.’” -Matthew 6:14
With a disbelieving look, Alexei responded, “Jesus’ teaching is like something from another world!”
Chris and Jose agreed, adding that an idea like this could only be from heaven; this kind of forgiveness is a supernatural act. This statement opened the door for them to share about Jesus’ forgiveness with the family.
The Gospel is relevant in any cultural setting. Please pray that this family and others who practice this avenging tradition would experience true forgiveness through Jesus.
*Names changed for security purposes.