Like I said a few days ago, my wife, Rochelle, and I spent two nights watching The National Geographic Channel’s two-part mini-series, Inside 9/11. For four hours over two nights I wondered how a group of people can hate another group of people so much that they would kill them indiscriminately. But it’s happened before, hasn’t it? History itself is the story of one people conquering, killing, and controlling another people for some reason or another. But that history always shocks and amazes me.
I had lots of emotions while watching Inside 9/11; anger, rage, sadness, fear. At times I felt that there was no appropriate emotion when watching people jump to their death from the 90th floor of the World Trade Center. There were times during the special when I thought to myself that the U.S. and its allies should pull out all its personnel and troops and carpet-bomb anything that moves in the middle-east. Quickly though, I noted that the emotion I was feeling was the same kind of “kill ‘em all” approach to life which caused 9/11 in the first place.
Oddly enough, that very same day, Pat Robertson–who represents NO Christian I know–spouted off about killing the President of Venezuela. As you know, the negative response was quick and wide-spread. In a way, I’m glad Pat said what he said. It was a reminder to me that I do not want to be that kind of Christian–the kind that thinks American interests and Christianity are the same thing.
I don’t want to be that way, though I understand it. My problem is that for some reason Jesus keeps taking me back to The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6, and 7. I preached through the sermon two years ago and it still has a powerful effect on me. Had Jesus worked at the State Department and been writing U.S. Foreign Policy He might have said something different, but what he said was, “…if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” For a second I’m going to resist the Christians’ temptation to mitigate what Jesus said back into what we are already doing and step out on a limb a interpret the message of our Master as one of peace.
Truthfully, I don’t always know what that means. Should Christians never engage in war? Some say yes. Should we always allow others to beat us and kill us. Some say no. What I do know is that Jesus goes on to say, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5.43-45).”
Could there be a harder teaching to follow? From the co-worker or neighborhood menace you dislike to the international terrorist networks currently at work plotting the next 9/11, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I find it amazing that Jesus’ economy is completely about love. Think about it!
If someone cuts you off in traffic: Love them.
If a family member lies and steals from you: Love them.
If a co-worker mistreats you: Love them.
If a child is suffering from drug or alcohol dependence and have disappointed you a thousand times: Love them.
If someone is planning to kill you or those you love: Love them, too.
Believe me, I’m not saying that our government agencies and local law enforcement should take an extended vacation from protection, what I am saying is that apparently there is incredible power in the loving people. Perhaps we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of that power. Maybe the way we are used to loving is so shallow and self-serving that we have no idea what love could do if it were completely unleashed. Maybe love is so important to Jesus because it might take a thousand lifetimes to learn how to do it right.
I don’t know about any of that, but I would sure love to find out what love could do. How about you?