They've formed a ring around you, jeering, with their voices raised like shaky bricks in a falling wall. Every inch of you feels three times as noticable, three times as gawky and unglorious. You want nothing more than to hide, or to react, or to call down fire upon them all. Maybe they've even pierced your hands and your feet...
So why do you pray for them? To heap burning coals on their heads? Nope, we could merely ask for that and it would be done for us. Why is it that Jesus says to us, "Pray for those who mistreat you," in that way that is heard a bit too often to ring so sharply anymore? "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." -1 Cor. 3:16-17
Up walks your dad, wading into the fray of vain and careless adults. You, his child, are a cowering ball of fear at the center of this implosion. His response to those who have ringed you around and shouted and jeered.......I'll kill you. My response to those who would hurt my wife, my family.......I'll kill you. Your response to those who would harm your children.......I'll kill you. At this juncture, most, if not all, of us are capable of murder. I know I probably wouldn't hesitate. The reason is not because I'm murderous, but because I would desire vengeance for my wife, my children, my family. Immediately. This, out of my poor love for those close to me, is still the most poignant response I can come up with. How much more, then, our Father in heaven? These children, these are mine. You lay a hand on them, and I'll kill you.
But we are called to stand in that gap. To follow our Lord, and Stephen, in saying, "Lord, do not hold this against them." Oddly enough, while typing this, I found myself listening to a song by Derek Webb...
I will protest the sword if it's not wielded well, 'cause my enemies are men like me.