“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 5:43-48
I may have written about this before, but with yesterday’s post, I felt I would write my rebuttal to those who disagreed with yesterday’s post, before the post appears.
I was sitting in class my senior year of college when the Army Major, our beloved instructor, insulted me. We were discussing political leanings. At the time, and due to the Cold War, both parties were to the right of center. As a result, our instructor discussed the concepts of conservative and liberal as opposed to party leanings. He then identified everyone in class, save one, as politically liberal or conservative. Our class leader asked why Rackley had not been identified. The instructor quipped, “Oh, he’s too far to the right to be a conservative. He is reactionary, wanting things the way they used to be.”
In my defense, growing up with parents who performed their daily work on terms that had long since passed away, I was trying to enter the twentieth century, 70+ years late, just to assimilate into society. I may or may not have succeeded. I wasn’t a reactionary. In our home, that’s the way life still was, and at the time, I was commuting from home. At night and on weekends, I lived under 18th or 19th century values.
But then, the Major stated that he was about to say something that would offend everyone in the room, but we must all remember the oath that we had taken and the oath that would be the foundation upon our being sworn in as commissioned Army officers.
Then he offended us with this statement, maybe not these exact words, “You have sworn an oath to defend the constitution. When it comes to freedom of speech, you have sworn an oath NOT to defend those who agree with you, but to defend those idiots who disagree with you. You are to lay down your life, if necessary, to defend their rights to continue making fools of themselves.”
It is rather odd that this was said more than 45 years ago, and I can still remember the incident and nearly the exact words. It is more bizarre that I was a young Christian who had studied the Bible since birth, but I only made the connection to the Scripture above, just as I am writing this post.
Jesus did not say that the enemy was an idiot or that they were foolish. Jesus went on in the Sermon on the Mount to advise against us doing such things. But in the proof of loving our enemies, Jesus basically said in softer, gentler terms what my old instructor told us. When our faith is rooted in God and in God’s Grace, the enemy’s words cannot shake us. And if we must lay down our life to defend their right to make a fool of themselves, we will gain our Heavenly reward that much sooner.
You may wish to hug a veteran about now, but first, put yourself in his shoes, defending, not those who agree, but those who disagree. From firsthand experience, it is not easy or painless, just the right thing to do.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.