Why is it that every time I have heard, read or thought of the concept that we should “Pray for those who persecute us,” at least in my adult life, I have thought about praying for Christians? Please note, I did not say “most times” or “many times.” It truly is, to my best recollection, every time.
When I was a child, it was easier to see the world in black and white. A person was either right or wrong. There could be no other option. And since we were, of course, right, then everyone who was not us, or with us, or at least immensely similar to us was, as a strict matter of course, wrong. And, being a child, these very simple rules to this very simple game were easy to grasp.
The idea, however, is to put away childish things as we grow up. (I might have plagiarized that a bit from the Apostle Paul, but I didn’t want to actually start quoting scripture on ya’.) In the same way that a Candyland game can no longer give me hours of endless pleasure and a Big Wheel seat no longer fits my ass, so too does the absolute condemnation of those believing something different no longer fit with a mature outlook on humanity.
Persecuting others through religious judgement, condemnation, or bigotry is hateful and cruel. But, it’s also childish. And these children’s games create division, violence, and even war. Perhaps rather than praying for those who would persecute me or you or anyone else, I’ll just pray that we all grow up.