As an American, I see the tension and the violence prominent in our news today. I’m concerned.
As a voter, I see the various agenda being woven into the comments of people on both sides of issues regarding government, guns, right and wrong, power, race and a number of other issues.
As a media consumer, I understand there is profit to be made in gaining my attention.
As a Christ-follower, I see the inconsistencies in our attention. Certain deaths seem to be more important than others. Certain injustices seem to be worse than others. It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to focus on the negative and to think about what others “should” do.
For those of us who follow Jesus, we know we’re to love those who persecute us. If you don’t assign any value to the teachings of Jesus, this message isn’t for you. But if you do claim to follow Jesus, we must consider carefully how he reacted when he was wronged. We must remember he knew what would happen to him, and yet he still gave us this command:
“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was 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 sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:39-48 NASB
When I read this, I immediately flash forward in time to an encounter Jesus had with a group of Jewish leaders who caught a woman in the act of adultery. In John 9: 1-11, Jesus was asked to comment on how to treat this person who had clearly done something wrong. Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 9:7b)
As an American, I’m invested in the rule of law. I’m only able to judge to the extent I’m responsible as a member of our society.
As a Christ-follower, I’m not in a position to criticize others. I’m not without sin. I must try to live my own life according to the Person I follow. Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t condemn. He simply says, “Go and sin no more.”
This may not seem like much of a reaction to the violence of the last few days. That would be correct. I don’t want to react. Leadership is action, not reaction. I won’t be marching. I won’t even be liking or sharing must of the stuff my friends are sharing from both sides of this issue. I don’t want to be part of the escalation. Rather I want to be one person who simply refuses to play. I will pray and try to live my life in such a way that people can see I follow Jesus.
Photo © badboo / 123RF Stock Photo