Wednesday, May 11, 2011

These aren't my words, I copied and pasted... but I find truth in them.

I like the following quotes from Spiderman 3, especially the last words from Aunt May:
Peter Parker: Flint Marko. The man who killed Uncle Ben, he was killed last night.
Aunt May: Oh, my. What happened?
Peter Parker: Spider-Man killed him.
Aunt May: Spider-Man? I don’t understand, Spider-Man doesn’t kill people. What happened?
Peter Parker: I, uh… He… he was… I thought that – That you’d feel… He deserved it, didn’t he?
Aunt May: I don’t think it’s for us to say whether a person deserves to live or die.
Peter Parker: But, Aunt May, he killed Uncle Ben.
Aunt May: Uncle Ben meant the world to us. But he wouldn’t want us living one second with revenge in our hearts. It’s like a poison. It can – It can take you over. Before you know it, turn us into something ugly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Love is the antidote...

I've seen a lot of cheering in the news lately over the death of Bin Ladin. While my flesh understands the feeling that a sense of justice has been served for the 9/11 attacks, my spirit can't rejoice over another man's death. I'm not saying we don't have a right to protect ourselves, I just believe that the best way isn't through violence. I know we see wars in the Old Testament... an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but when Jesus came with the new covenant, he said he had fulfilled the old covenant (the law). In the New Testament, Jesus says over and over, "You've heard it said..., but I tell you..." The old covenant, the law, was to be temporary. Jesus introduced grace to us in the New Testament. He knew the law could only temporarily conform external behavior, but would never reach the heart where real transformation occurs. Only love can do that. Grace shows us the depth of ones love.

I received a sweet email from my mother today on Mothers Day. In it she said, "Grace is unearned favor and that is what each of my daughters are to me." Let that definition of grace marinate for a while... grace = unearned favor. The gift that Jesus gave us could not be earned and certainly wasn't deserved. Instead of getting what our sins deserve, which is death, we were offered forgiveness. He calls us to follow in his steps.

My flesh wants to rejoice when my enemy falls. Jesus tells me not to. My flesh wants to take revenge when I'm wounded. God says, "It's mine to avenge." My flesh wants to pay back evil for evil. Jesus says, pay back evil with good. My flesh wants to make another person my enemy. Jesus says, our battle is never against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. My flesh wants to curse my enemies. Jesus tells us to pray for, to love, and to bless our enemies. His ways are not our ways. Our justice looks like payback. God's justice looks like mercy.

"Us" verses "them" mentality is not kingdom of God mentality (how God views things), it's kingdom of the world mentality (how the world views things). Although we don't realize it, kingdom of the world mentality is really seeing the world through a distorted lens. Through that self centered way of looking at things, each side views the other as the enemy. Each presupposes "we're" the good guys and "they're" the bad guys. From each person's or group's perspective, the other one is the evil one. In Greg Boyd's book, Myth of a Christian Nation, he asks the question... "At what point did we become a christian nation? Was it when we massacred the Native Americans and took their land, or was it when we brought the Africans over and enslaved them?" When I read that, it woke me up to how biased we all are in our own favor. It's scary how ill equipped we are to see things clearly. Perhaps that's why we are not to judge. We never do it fairly. Our sight is too limited, and we always serve our own self interest. After we label "us" as the good guys and "them" as the bad guys, we then decide how justice will be served. We basically play God.

Think of two siblings... "Ouch, you hurt me, I'll get you back!"And back and forth they go, with each hit becoming more violent. Nothing is ever solved with violence. We instinctively hope, if we just hit harder, we'll win. But part of us knows that won't be the end, so we sleep with one eye open wondering when the other will try to get us back.  I saw this on someone's facebook...  "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." It's true, we think power over someone (forcing, controlling) is greater than power under someone (serving, loving). Jesus didn't fight with the weapons of this world. His way looked foolish and weak. Could love really be more powerful??? Turning the other cheek just sounds crazy! Martin Luther King and Gandhi took the route of non-violence and look at the impact they made. Gandhi actually said, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Another time he said, "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the bible, all of India would be Christian today."

Jesus didn't come to bring another religion, but to bring a revolution... to teach us a new way to live. What if we, christians, actually believed what we profess? What if we had the faith and the courage to follow who we claimed to follow and put into practice His words? What if we actually loved, prayed for, and blessed those who cursed us? It took us 10 years to kill Bin Ladin. What if we spent that decade demonstrating a Jesus kind of love for our enemies instead of incurring an insurmountable debt and wasting countless lives? Love is the only hope we have for overcoming evil. It's the only antidote.