“Intercession means no more than to bring our brother into the presence of God, to see him under the Cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace. Then everything in him that repels us falls away; we see him in all his destitution and need.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together
Think of that annoying person you cannot stand. (Hopefully my image didn’t pop into your head) Think of that person who drives you absolutely up the wall when they walk in the door or say something out loud.
Now with that person still in mind, can you pray for them? Can you say with a straight face that you wish them well and that you would hope for their redemption in Christ? It’s tough for me! But the counsel of Bonhoeffer in Life Together is different. He understood that even within a tight-knit Christian community there would still be personalities that would conflict and drama that would have to come forth. Life happens and people are not perfect.
To pray for someone, to really mean it, is not to passively tolerate that person. Instead, prayer is to bring that person into the presence of God. It is to see him or her as in need of grace and of in need of redemption. Bringing that person before God provides the opportunity to see that they are just like you and me, imperfect people who really need care. The cloud of dust that surrounds the person like Pig Pen from the Peanuts comic strip will begin to dissipate, as the true self emerges. The true self that they were delivered through the redeeming work of Jesus.
Please listen to me though, this does not mean that the praying one is superior to that person. Bringing that person to the Lord in prayer grants the other person the same right we have received, “to stand before Christ and share in his mercy.”
Let’s try together this week to bring that person, the nemesis/stalker/harasser/annoyer, to Christ and ask that mercy would be shown. I know that it will be tough, but it’s certainly worth a try, wouldn’t you say?