Remember the story from our World History books, a story over 3000 years old? A well-crafted, giant horse appearing outside the gates at the break of dawn and curiosity got the best of those living within the fortified city? So they opened the gate, maneuvered the mysterious horse into the inner sanctum of the walls only to find it was filled with the enemy’s soldiers who promptly attacked the city from within. True story. I think someone has opened the gate to our heartland and ushered in an ugly horse of hatred and violence, one that is growing and multiplying at an alarming rate. It appears to me that the American population is attacking each other from within and no one is coming out the winner. God must look at us and think we have lost our minds.
I suppose violence has always been with us. From the Revolutionary War to the way we pushed the American Natives out of their home, from the Civil War to all generation’s ugliness of slavery of every kind, we seem to be steeped in violence. Yet, in spite of history’s violence, todays drive-by shootings and crimes of hatred still manage to shock me. My morning routine of tuning in the Morning Express has lost its appeal as I dread what tragedy might be the ‘breaking news’ of the day. For all of us, prayer time has a new page as we devote time to praying for our law enforcement officers, praying for people who are injured or killed as a result of hasty actions, and praying that some sense of trust and peace can be restored to our homeland.
Matthew recorded in our Bible some powerful words of Jesus Christ as He taught His followers from a mountainside. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt 5:7-9) Mercy – not getting what a person deserves, we could use a great deal of mercy today. A pure heart cannot hold hatred, bitterness, or an unforgiving spirit. We need more pure hearts. And peacemakers?? Please, we need a truck load of them.
What disappoints the most is seeing the hatred and bitterness coming from the hearts of people who claim to believe in God and follow the teachings of Jesus. How can we worship a God who exemplifies love by giving His own Son for our salvation and not love the created objects of His love? Jesus told His followers, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matt 5:44) We have no hope of pleasing God if we cannot focus on the goal of loving as He loves. It will not be easy; it will not feel natural, but a compassionate love is our only hope.
One thing I know: we live in a fallen world, a world that will continue to struggle until God brings down His final gift to us, a world without sin. Until that time, Christians must strive to love in word and deed simply because that’s what Jesus did. That is the final word we have from the Bible, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17) May our actions and our words be fitting to be done in the name of our Lord.