We are both human and works in progress.
Yesterday the horrific terror attacks in Paris have opened up old wounds for many in this country. We watch in sadness and shock. We understand, not so far removed from 9/11. We pray and we offer support in any way possible.
Thinking about these things led me to the most challenging instruction Jesus ever delivered in the Bible.
One day, as he gathered on a mountainside, a crowd formed. He delivered the greatest sermon ever recorded and systematically tore down every societal construct of the day. He spoke of the meek, the hated, hungry and thirsty being blessed. He warned of false prophets gaining money and following by corrupting the Word.
He then said this:
The exact lines read (Luke 6:27-36):
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
These paragraphs fly in the face of everything we stand for, every human emotion, all the rage and tears. The concept exists in stark contrast to how we act and feel as believers, a government and society.
We scream for justice, for bloodshed and retaliation. Our guts want those guilty to get everything they deserve.
We want war.
And the cycle keeps spinning.
Today I’m praying for those involved in this tragedy and for wisdom and security. Something needs to change at the heart of this world. There is a void and only one way to fill it.
The cross still stands, in the moments we choose to heed the message and the moments we ignore in our humanity, fueled by rage in the face of unquestionable evil. The cross stands to tell us there is justice, victory, sacrificial love that heals all wounds.
The cross stands to tell us it will be there in the wake of every terrorist bomb and bullet, every life taken.
It is a challenge to this world ready for the day we are prepared to answer the call.