Last night as I was walking home from work, I noticed two boys and an adult walking along the street. One of the young boys had a bike which he was “walking” behind the other young boy, who walking was slightly ahead. The boy with the bike accidently (as it looked to me) ran into the boy who was walking, just a bump, nothing major. Immediately the boy in front turned around and without so much as a word hit the other boy in the shoulder. The boy with the bike threw it down and started to pound on the other boy…the adult immediately jumped in and broke up what had started. Now I don’t know the “back story” I only know what I saw…but these boys were young, very young, and I wondered at what age we all learn to hit back when we are hurt. Because it IS a “learned” behavior…and not the way we were created…and not the way of the Kingdom we “Followers” call Home.
At whatever age we’ve learned to hit back harder, or repay an equal amount of pain, we also learn to apply that principle to every part of our lives. We learn the subtle ways of “getting back” or “getting even” and call it “fairness”. We learn it, and we practice it. It becomes a part of our politics: whatever happened to simply stating your platform and being polite, without attacking your opponent? It becomes war: how long have countries fought, simply stating that they are paying back for the attack on them? It all seems so natural…after all, I have the right to defend myself, don’t I? I have the right to say that if you hurt me, you deserve pain also…isn’t that the case?
Some people who call themselves “Christian” do the same thing, without a second thought, even though “fighting back”, “getting even”, “causing pain”, “an eye-for-an-eye” is completely, irrevocably, and undeniably against ALL that Jesus, the Christ, teaches in that black book they hold up while screaming curses at those who are different than them.
When our soldiers across the sea are killed, mutilated, their bodies dragged through the streets…I am not surprised, I am horrified that any human could do that to another, but am not surprised. That is the kind of behavior I expect from the ignorant and ungodly. I would hope that is never the kind of behavior any American citizen would engage in…but I know that I’m wishing for something that is probably not to be.
However, we who follow Jesus (and if you’re going to call yourself a “follower of Jesus” you actually DO need to be “following Jesus”…otherwise, you’re just a “fan”) should be behaving in a manner that HE teaches us. No matter what country we live in, no matter if our bodies live in the USA or somewhere else, we are citizens of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and we simply don’t behave that way. Not because we haven’t been hurt, we have. Not because we haven’t been slandered, we have. Not because we haven’t been humiliated, we have. But because we simply don’t behave that way…no matter what they do to us. The minute we hit them back, we become them, we ignore our citizenship in the Kingdom, and we cause God grief.
If we are going to “follow” Jesus, then we have no other choice but to do as He commands: walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek, love (LOVE) our enemies and pray for them…and be IN the world…but, unlike “them”, not OF the world.
My prayer is that there will come a time, soon, when others will know we are Christians by our love, and not just because our Facebook status says so.