From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How To Love a Terrorist

Previously I wrote about how the primary directive from God calls upon us to love God with all our heart, our soul, our strength, and our mind, and our neighbor as ourselves.  In fact, we are created to do this only by our own choice.  That directive from God emphasizes that God does not need mere men to wage war on His behalf.  The truth is, if He wanted all non-believers dead, they would drop like rocks at His command.  He doesn't need armies for His holy will to prevail, and to me it seems an insult to God for individuals to take up violence in order to force others to love and serve God.  That appears to me to be the ego and pride of individuals controlling their own lives rather than submitting to God's direction.  The leadership of  movements which promote violence and force project the idea that THEY wish to be in charge, to wield power, to rule over others in order to satisfy their own desires, ego, and self pride.

One principle that I am certain of, none of us can control others completely.   You can imprison a man, beat and torture a man, burn his home, kill his family, murder a man, but you cannot control his mind.  God will not allow anyone to remove the stamp of our being that is created "in his image."  With enough torture you can force a man to say things he doesn't really believe, but you cannot control what he thinks and believes, in the secret place in his mind that holds his true self, that part that will exist somewhere forever, cannot be forced. 

Look at God's answer when he was asked by the man, "who is my neighbor."  He answered with a story of a man of one nation, whose nation historically hated  another nation, and the people of the hated nation hated them in return. 

The story He told said that a man from Samaria was on a trip, his journey had him on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a road so filled with danger at that time that is was known as the "Way of Blood."    On the side of the road he saw a man who had been robbed, beaten, and left naked  to die.  What God said next, he knew would shock everyone listening to his story in reply to the question "who is my neighbor."  It was shocking because he was from Samaria, and the man left to die was from a country with a long history of hating the nation of Samaria.  The people of the two countries were raised by their citizens hating one another.  God told of how a priest of the man's own country saw the injured man on the side of the road, and just passed on by.  Next a man who held a station in that day that was like our modern day  politicians passed by and he too ignored the man.  The rest of the story is best told in the original text I was read from my childhood on up.  "When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  He set him on his own animal and bought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii and gave them to the host and said to him, "Take care of him.  Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return."  Then God asks the question, "Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?"  The man who had asked the question responded, "He who showed mercy on him."

I realize, I cannot impact nor influence the governments of this world.  I am a person of no importance to anyone other than my family and my friends.  The majority of us are in my same position.  I watch closely the governments of the world in interaction, and there are major differences between some of those governments.  The Coalition Forces are one of the only organizations with mufti-nation participation that I can see which has joined people from many lands in the common cause of standing against terrorism.  I think that is due to the very heart of God's reply to "who is my neighbor?" 
As I said, I have no power over how nations interact, most of us don't.  The man in this story only had control over only  his own response to the stranger on the road as well.  That suggests to me that our thinking toward one another, no matter  what nation we are from, should be controlled by our own response before God.  It also says to me that when others come suggesting violence as a response toward those whose theology is different than mine, they do not have as their motive service to God.

God tells us that He is not a "respecter of persons."   No title that you hold, no position, and no affiliation, impresses God.  Those who have titles given to them by other people that the rest of the world is impressed with do not have influence with God.  He is the only One truly possessing the power of determining standards and rules to live by.  His wisdom encompasses all, it isn't just wise opinion, it is what really is.  Which leads back to those two rules we are to live by everyday, not just the days when things are going well for us, and we are in the mood.   When we are in even the darkest of life, those two rules should be the anchor of our behavior and attitude.  In other words, measure every response of your life by God's directive to love him first, and next love our neighbor.

When the factions in the Middle East who murder and commit other acts of violence claim to do so at God's direction, they are lying, and acting out of prejudices not given them by God.  

The area where I have control is in my own response and to stand against the violence of those who claim their behavior is for God.