Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Loving Thy Neighbor Inherently Means Not Killing Them"

I saw this on a bumper sticker in Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago. Chris accused me of never writing about anything personal on our blog, so I thought I’d stick my neck out there and attempt to relay what has been on our hearts for about five months now.

It all started with this sort of re-evaluation phase I was going through with my faith. All of us as adults come to a point where we start to evaluate what we were taught as children about God, how do we see Jesus? I was in the midst of this struggle when we began going to Edgewood Believer’s and heard the awesome message Bryan preached after he returned from Seattle. I’ll have to sum up his message so that my post isn’t pages long: the way to reach unbelievers is through God’s love, not through condemnation. Telling people they are going to hell if they don’t believe in the Lord is NOT the right idea. God is love.

Well, that started to simmer in my mind…this radical notion of loving our neighbor because Christ loves them. After a few Sundays of sitting under this teaching of goodwill towards ALL men, something clicked. God really does love Osama Bin Laden, that crazy man in Iran whose name I can’t spell, terrorists, rapists, murderers, child killers. He loves them all. He died for them all.

Then I read a book called The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren. In it he points out how political Jesus’ message really is: His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. What does this mean? In heaven there will be peace, there will be no war, no killing, no terrorism, etc. If we, as believers of Christ, are meant to be His example down here, to help make this Earth a better place, what does it require of us? Is violence to end violence an acceptable way to conduct ourselves as Christians? What if all the Christians of the world chose to be pacifist when it came to aggression from our enemies? Would this be bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth in a way? I am the last person who ever thinks idealistically. I consider myself a realist and sometimes can be very cynical, unfortunately. Do I think a country could survive without a military? Probably not. Should we let a murderer walk free? Absolutely not. So, how do we reconcile our personal walk with Jesus and these huge political issues? What would Jesus have said? Jesus said if someone strikes you on one cheek, you are to turn your other to let him have another shot. If someone asks you to walk a mile with him, walk two. He says to love your enemy, to pray for him.

It was the bumper sticker that summed up all these conflicting ideas: how can we love our neighbor and still inflict violence upon them? What if I decided to be pacifist? Can I as one person change a whole violent world? Is there another way to handle this dilemma? I don’t know. Maybe after all this studying and reflecting and absorbing of sermons, I will continue to be the gun owning, capital punishment advocating, war supporting Christian I’ve always been. Maybe I’m just testing my faith and values but will end up coming back towards the middle. Maybe all of this is off base and too extreme and nothing will change. But maybe everything will.

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