here are some more thoughts on living in a dark world…
when there is danger…whether it’s the presence of potential harm…or a frontal assault on our personal safety…we always have options for our responses. there is no script. it’s entirely ad-lib for all of us.
some buy an extra box of ammo. some move to the suburbs. some turn into doomsday preppers. some become political activists. others join the army. some join the neighborhood watch. some simply cower in fear and paranoia. like i said yesterday, it’s personal.
here’s my reality… as a follower of christ, i am bound by his word and his lifestyle. for me, there is no legit wiggle room.
no matter what my “practical response” to violence and terror may be (and i have never really been confronted by either), first and foremost, my response must always be controlled by what god commands me to do. and in those cases where god’s word has not spoken, my actions must conform to how i think jesus would act if he were in my shoes.
here’s what it looks like…and don’t mistake this for some kind of rant on gun control! even though i’m not a gun guy, some of my best friends and some of the finest followers of christ i have ever met are gun owners! so check it out:
i am to pray for victims. it is truly the very least…and the very best…that i can do.
i am to pray for my enemies. i don’t get it, most of the time. sometimes this feels like an impossible task. but i am commanded to do this. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
i am to help those in need. money, blood, supplies, relief, food, comfort…whatever i can reasonably and practically give. both near and far. i don’t believe that jesus puts border restrictions on compassion. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40
i am to grieve for the loss and suffering of others. acts of terror and violence need to remind me of how sacred life really is. when i cease to feel for the pain of others, i am no longer walking in the footsteps of jesus. and it should not take a bomb or a tornado to awaken this “pain” in me. it needs to be present all the time.
i am to forgive. when innocent people are subjected to tragedy, our “natural” response is to boil with anger, harden our hearts, or even seek revenge. but even though it goes against everything i think or feel, i must do what jesus would do. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
i cannot let anger or fear control me or my decisions. saying i trust god has to mean something. it is not just a spiritual platitude. “trusting god” does not cancel out my responsibility to be wise and safe…but it does mean there are things i cannot, and will not, take into my own hands. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”, says the Lord. Romans 12:19. do i really believe that?
images of violence, chaos, hate, blood, retaliation and panic explode on our computer and television screens every day. it’s easy for fear to strangle confidence. it’s understandable why, to me, people are reduced to paranoia. but i either need to believe the word of god, or not. i do. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. 1 Timothy 1:7
i am a peacemaker. when the angry crowd came to take jesus away by force, peter raised his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest…in an act of defiance, to protect what was his. Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords.” Matthew 26:52
now i know people interpret this teaching in different ways. i am not ignorant of the sociopolitical issues. (the role of the military and the police for our protection is clearly set out in scripture.) but i am consumed with the awareness that jesus has called me to be a peacemaker.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 it would have been easy, and vastly preferred by his disciples, for jesus to take his kingdom by force. but no matter how hard i look, i just can’t see defending and defeating evil through physical violence being the way of jesus. his way was different. he was different. i must be different.
like i said yesterday, coexisting in a world of darkness…as people of light…is no simple task.
love is the better way. to be honest, in a world of brokenness, sin, perversion, evil and fear…this is a totally ridiculous statement. it goes against my nature. at my core, i am self-centered. treating others the way they deserve to be treated just makes more sense. and it’s easier. it takes no discipline. it satisfies my basic craving.
terror and fear can turn to hate and anger in a heartbeat. and they can make us do some crazy things.
yeah. a much better way.