You know what?
We all like to take scripture and mold it and fit to into something that will make us feel good; something that we can turn into a decal and put on our wall to encourage us. Comfort us. Validate us.
And, there is nothing wrong with that, I suppose. There is much encouraging, in scripture. And comforting. Good grief, there is much comforting in the words we find between the beginning of Genesis and the very last verse of Revelation.
But it is oh, so easy, to cherry pick what makes us feel good, or what makes us look good, or what justifies our position, and ignore the hard stuff. The stuff that calls us to a radical obedience that truly is impossible on our own. The type of obedience and Christ-following that we are completely incapable of doing, apart from God’s grace and mercy and love working through us and in us, to enable us to choose to follow Him.
Like the words in Luke 6.
Yesterday, hell broke loose in the form of terroristic attacks on France. At least 129 dead. At least 352 injured. Parents will be burying children–no parent should outlive their child. Children have had parents ripped from their lives at the hands of the murderers. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, co-workers, friends, roommates, colleagues, husbands, wives–senselessly killed; potentially in the name of religion. Again.
And all the world mourns. They rightfully display a show of solidarity with the grieving people of France: assemblies, moments of silence, the changing of Facebook profile pictures to the flag of France, Hashtags proclaiming “Pray for France.” The anger is deep. It is real. It is even justified.
And God grieves has His creation wrecks havoc upon the earth. And upon each other.
And we look to God and cry “Come, quickly, God. Maranatha.”
And we rightfully shake our fists at our enemies and declare that they will not win. And we vow to fight and pursue them to the ends of the earth, to bring them to justice or to eradicate them.
But what do we do with Luke 6?
Honestly, I don’t even know.
These are hard words, right here, following a list of “Blesses are’s” and “Woe’s”……these are words that are hard to stomach, and at times–like today–seem downright impossible:
Personally, and deeply, I have a very hard time stomaching these words.
I want to say to God this: “You ask too much, here, God. You don’t understand! They hate us. They hate me. Love them? You want me to love those who are my enemy? The very ones who wish me deep harm? That have ill-will toward me? That despise me? You want me to do good to those how hate me? You want us to bless those who curse us? And, o, my soul–to pray for those who abuse us?
Love. Do good to. Bless. Pray for.
“Oh, God, You ask too much. You can’t possibly understand the hell they have unleashed with their hatred. With their cursing.
With their abuse.”
How could He possibly understand?
Except, the cross.
Except, these words, from Jesus, as He hung on the cross, bearing our sins. Bearing my sins. Crucified, killed, murdered to pay the debt I–we–could never pay:
And, we as Christ-followers, are called to do the same.
But, honestly, I don’t know how.
Certainly such words from Jesus does not mean that we do not defend our country. Certainly such words do not mean that justice is wrong. No, we see consequences and punishment and discipline for sin and evil through scripture.
But–far more–we see this: Love. Do good. Bless. Pray for.
Oh, but it is so hard, when the pain is so deep. When attacks are ruthless. When children are murdered. When explosions rip through restaurants. When abuse goes on. And on. And on. In dark corners.
When evil is rampant; and in our own backyards, whether we are a country under attack, or an individual being preyed upon or hated or cursed or abused.
I can’t, and we can’t, on our own. Such mercy is beyond me. It is beyond me.
But I also know that these words are in the book that I not only cherish, but that I know is truth. Saving truth. And I cannot overlook them in order to get to the verses that fit cheerfully on a calendar or a coffee mug or a t-shirt.
I need all of scripture. Even the hard verses. Even these verses.
Because–here is the thing–I, too, needed Jesus to say on my behalf these words: “Father, forgive them–forgive her–for she knows not what she does.”
I don’t know how to love these people so consumed with hatred and evil that they would shed innocent blood in orchestrated attacks in the city of Paris. I don’t know how to love them. I don’t, and if you are reading this, then my guess is that you don’t either.
But I do know this: alongside my prayers for the people of France, I must also pray thus:
I must implore God to teach me how to love my enemies, because I can not do so, apart from Him.