Sunday, November 15, 2015

A different take on the Paris tragedy....


This entire weekend, ever since the horrendous attacks in Paris that killed over 120 innocent lives, I've seen countless Facebook friends alter their profile photo to indicate their support for France. I've seen images of the Eiffel Tower, and images of various building worldwide, lit in a way to mimic the French flag. And I've seen many words of support and sorrow.

But I've also seen ugliness. I've seen political statements from the right and the left, making commentary about how specific politicians in our country are indirectly responsible for the attacks. That is utter nonsense. I've also seen a few who, obviously in their anger (even though they truly were not affected by it) advocate an immediate and swift military response. This disturbs me. 

Why? Because those who call themselves Christian seem to forget that Christ himself called for us to respond differently when it comes to violence. Matthew 5:43-45 is very clear: 

"You have heard 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."

Wow! That's powerful stuff. 

And I realized today in church that Jesus not only calls on us to pray for those affected by these events, but for those who perpetrated the acts. That's tough. Sure, we want to go in and exact revenge. We would maybe even love to nuke 'em. But that's not the response that we, as Christians, are called to do. We are called to be Christ in this world, and Christ himself commands us to love and pray for our enemies. Is it easy to do? NO! But it's what we're called to do.

Yes, I know that there are thousands of people, both actual victims, relatives of victims, and even those who lived in the area, and they are severely traumatized by what happened. I am not so naive as to flippantly suggest that the answer is as easy as "pray for your enemies".

Yet, maybe the answer is just THAT easy. We are to pray for the terrorists, not just for Paris or the victims. Will those terrorists find the true Love of God if we do? Probably not. And maybe Jesus' words weren't meant to heal the hearts of the ones who did these acts. Maybe, in the act of praying for those men and women who committed these deeds, we can find comfort and peace in ourselves. 

Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, November 14, 2015

For my friend Catherine

Wow, Catherine. I was and am listening, but felt inadequate to respond. I read your post Friday morning, and thought of it all day and into this morning. As you can see on Facebook, I have friends who, even though they don't know you at all, feel compassion and empathy towards you and what you are going through. My words may offer little solace or comfort. Thankfully, though, you and I share a core trust in a Truth, and you are leaning on that now. 

Yet, sometimes, even faith in God can seem inadequate. You want someone PHYSICALLY there - a family member - that can hold your hand, or hold you, and simply - due to that life-long association - provide comfort that goes deep within. It's like the favorite blanket or sweater that you've had since you were young, or in college. It offers something that is intangible, but it is not "alive". However, it represents something that you retreat to when you are cold, or hurt. And it doesn't ask questions or give unsolicited advice. 

While I cannot relate to or even fully understand the pain of not having family, I don't believe you are alone as you feel you are. That may sound condescending, and I don't wish to trivialize what you're feeling. It's real. It hurts. Being alone can be so painful. But it also can be liberating. Just as you quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9, own that verse now. Give yourself time to mourn the loss and losses you've experienced, and maybe, that's best done alone. That is not to be considered an act of weakness. I believe it takes a stronger person to weep, than it does for a weaker person, because the weaker person does not wish to appear weak. A strong person weeps, and understands that in the act of weeping, the pain is voiced and subsequently released, and life moves on. Take ownership of that aloneness, confide in your friends, and weep. 

I think our former pastor John Todd would encourage you to do just that. But he would not advocate retreating into yourself. On the contrary, armed with that Truth that you carry, he'd advocate facing it, and eventually triumphing over it. And, yes, you have friends which can never be truly family, because, as you said, they have their families. But don't discount the value of those friendships. You DO have people to lean on. Maybe not in the literal sense. But they are there. 

I will keep you in my thoughts. 

John