Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Tuff Stuff: Catch Him and Kill Him! Love beyond Hate
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-44 & Luke 6:27-28)
Yeah, right, love my enemies. Who are you kidding? How can I love someone who hates me? Come on, be honest, could you love some big-time mass-murdering terrorist,who wants you and all your Christian friends dead? Do you really think you should pray for that guy? No Christian could love such a guy...or should. Right?
There is tuff stuff in the Bible. There is some tough teaching by Jesus. God has some tough expectations of Christians. Love isn't a nice cozy word for us to reserve for the person sitting next to us in the pew. Love demands we get beyond that. It demands we get beyond how the world perceives things.
I have prayed for a certain well-known, big-time, mass-murdering terrorist and others of his ilk. He probably wouldn't like what I pray, but I'm not concerned with what such a person thinks of me. I certainly don't agree or approve of what he and his followers say and do. So what do I pray? I pray that he comes to truth, that he would accept Christ as his savior.
Why? Wouldn't that just save him from the hell he deserves?
Yes, it would, just as I have been saved through Christ from the hell I deserve. But think further, what if people like this big-time mass-murdering terrorist came to Christ? Wouldn't that be better than what such a person is doing now? Capturing and killing an enemy might satisfy our longing for revenge, but little else. Wouldn't it be better if such a person became a spokesman for God? At the very least they would stop the killing. Perhaps they could even make a difference for good instead of evil.
This is really naive and far-fetched, such things just don't happen.
But such a thing did happened, so why not again. When people began following Christ and spreading the news of His resurrection, they were looked upon as infidels by a powerful man who went about killing them at every opportunity. He led his band from city to city, breaking into homes, slaying or arresting and imprisoning the occupants, and he wasn't slaying uniformed combatants in battle, but men, women and children of no physical threat to him. It wasn't that these people stole or murdered, only that they didn't believe as he did. This man took it upon himself to judge and avenge God. In many ways this man was a terrorist of his time.
The man's name was Saul, and one time he stood guarding the cloaks of those stoning Steven. He watched the brutal execution of a young man who didn't happen to agree with his view. Saul listened to Steven's passionate testimony and wasn't phased. Saul left Steven's dead, bloody corpse to go find others to persecute and execute.
But on his way he saw the light, literally, and Saul, the persecutor, became Paul, the persuader. Why should we ever doubt God's ability to use whomever He wills to serve His purpose?
Well, maybe so, but that love thy enemies stuff is hard enough to grasp. I mean, I could maybe buy loving my neighbor like myself, although it'd be hard to love the guy down the street who gives me the one-finger salute because of the political candidate sign in my yard, but love my enemies? Why'd you pick someone like a big-time, mass-murdering terrorist as an example. That's pretty extreme.
Yes, and the extreme case is exactly what people throw at you when you say things such as love your enemies. You know, like: "Come on, be honest, could you love some big-time mass-murdering terrorist, who wants you and all your Christian friends dead?" Remember?
Now, did Jesus say: Love your enemies, if they aren't real nasty and pray only for those who call you names and make obscene gestures? No, He was pretty inclusive saying: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. If you don't think that pretty much covered all, then look at the next statement Christ gave as an example: He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Humph! Well, I can see maybe praying for my enemies. But love them. Love is a pretty strong word.
Yes, and the Greek, agapao, doesn't make it a weaker word. It could read, "but I tell you, love dearly your enemies, be fond of them, welcome them, entertain them, and pray for those who persecute you."
So, you are one of those bleeding hearts, right? Don't matter what some dude does, he suddenly says "I got born again" and you'd let him waltz away scott free. Dress up nice and walk into the courtroom carrying a Bible, and if you're on the Jury the verdict has to be innocent on the grounds of insincerity. Thou shall not judge and all that?
Not at all. "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."
The Lord's Prayer? What has that to do with this?
Think about "on earth as in heaven". Right now we are on the earth, in this world. "Then (Jesus) saith he to them, `Render therefore the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God." There are rules and laws that apply to the secular and there is the Grace of God in the Spiritual. My being Christian does not exempt me from the laws of my land. If I robbed a bank and killed a teller, was caught and convicted to death by injection for my crime, accepting Christ as my Savior is not going to commute my sentence. If the big-time, mass murdering terrorist is caught, he is subject to the full penalty of the law - period. "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." 1 Peter 2:13-14
Yeah, what happened to this person becoming a spokesman for God, his maybe making a difference for good over evil. How's he do that if he's dead?
Again, a Christian or non-Christian does not escape the consequences of their crime under the law of this world. If God has a further purpose for such a person, then God will somehow spare their life and open any doors necessary. Those doors shouldn't be opened simply because someone is "a bleeding heart" or because the convicted claims Christ.
If they sincerely have come to salvation through Christ, then death is nothing to them. If it was merely a gimmick to gain symphony, then they will go to hell. If that is the case, we should all be saddened. Why? Because it is not God's will that anyone go to Hell. Because God so loved the world he provided a means through the death and resurrection of Jesus for all who accept it to escape Hell, thus we should love our enemies as well as our friends, for so does God, and we should pray none go to Hell. If we would be perfect as our Father in heaven. we will love even those we might not like, as tough as that may seem. This is tuff stuff.
(The illustration at the top is "The Martyrdom of St. Steven" by Pieter Paul Rubens.)