“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- Matthew 5:38-48
“Oh, the gradual grasp of hatred. Its damage begins like the crack in my windshield. Thanks to a speeding truck on a gravel road, my window was chipped. With time the nick became a crack, and the crack became a winding tributary. … I couldn’t drive my car without thinking of the jerk who drove too fast. Though I’ve never seen him, I could describe him. He is some deadbeat bum who cheats on his wife, drives with a six-pack on the seat, and keeps the television so loud the neighbors can’t sleep. …
“Ever heard the expression ‘blind rage’?
“Let me be very clear. Hatred will sour your outlook and break your back. The load of bitterness is simply too heavy. Your knees will buckle under the strain, and your heart will break beneath the weight. The mountain before you is steep enough without the heaviness of hatred on your back. The wisest choice – the only choice – is for you to drop the anger. You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.”
- Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace
Our pastor preached on the Scripture above this past Sunday. He said many would dislike the last statement by Jesus. We cannot be perfect. The pastor said that if we look at the context in the original Greek, to be perfect meant to have the character of God. We may fail at that, but the Corps of Engineers motto comes to mind, Essayons. We can continue to strive, strive in the direction of our Lord and Savior.
It was rather odd listening to the sermon about loving our enemies, putting that into practice, and forgiving others, and the pastor never mentioned Brandt Jean and his forgiveness of Amber Guyger for killing his brother, Botham. My pastor and his wife had been in Germany, visiting their children and grandchild. He had only seen a brief clip of the hug, almost without context. Yet, most media outlets barely mentioned the statement about forgiveness and how Brandt wanted the convicted murderer of his brother to go to God and He will forgive her and the best thing would be her to give her life to Christ. (Most internet videos have the part about God edited out. The Wee Flea featured the entire unedited statement.) Instead, the media focused on the angry mob outside the courtroom that shouted slogans to intensify the hatred.
Our pastor taught us that we need to practice God’s love in a practical way, practicing God’s view of justice and holiness. We need to practice on the street level where others do not play by the rules. We need to be different.
But then, have I ever had a rock thrown into my windshield? Yes. Have I ever imagined, as Lucado so humorously wrote, about how the other person was so utterly rotten, so devoid of any quality that was human, forget halfway decent – without ever having met the other person? Yes. That is the way of the world.
We have a president under fire, but this is the third year of continuously being under fire. From before he ever took office, they have screamed impeachment. The hatred in the DC swamp has no boundaries. If they go down this road, what will happen to the next president in line? The USA will suffer greatly. Hatred will continue until it feeds upon itself and the democracy of the USA will be no more.
There is hope. We can only find it through Jesus. It starts with people like Brandt Jean who can say to his brother’s murderer, “I love you. I forgive you.”
Rather than blind rage, we need to practice God’s view of justice and holiness. We start by loving one another.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.