For my Christian friends, this is a challenge: to choose His ways over our own.
Our nature is often to “get the bad guys”… (Maybe like Paul before he met Christ… And I admit I’m attracted to “getting the bad guys” in the movies… In real life, a little less… In the movies, the bad guys are often one-dimensional pure-evil beings. In real life, it’s more complicated than that…)
Each person is created in God’s image; each person was once an innocent newborn… And life is sacred. Somewhere along the way, an evil that’s not human swayed Osama bin Laden. It’s happened since the beginning of time. Sometimes there’s nothing else that makes sense to explain the horror that certain human beings have inflicted on others.
As Christians, we believe spiritual forces are at work, and there is one that is more evil than any human has ever been. (I’ve had some experiences that I won’t get into here, but just wanted to say that I don’t mention the spiritual dimension lightly. It’s not textbook knowledge, it’s life experience. And it’s also, first and foremost, what God says. His Word is true, and He’s very specific about this subject. Reread Ephesians…) Does that mean I excuse what bin Laden did on 9-11? Absolutely not. Am I trying to soften how you see someone who chooses evil as a way of life? Again, absolutely not.
But if we choose to follow our Master’s way, our nature often conflicts with His — and then we have to decide what we’re going to do, how we’re going to react. Do we let our feelings take over, or do we let His Truth override our feelings? It’s something every Christian who wants to live His way struggles with, because we’re human. And He understands that. And He also understands that His followers who are trying to “do life” His way are going to mess up. That’s part of life on Earth. He just wants us to get back up again and keep walking with Him.
Jesus always deals with everything from a place of love … and commands us to do the same… He’s already said His way is a narrow path that not many choose. Christianity is sometimes lived in the cultural sense, and that’s it; “if you were born Christian, then you’re Christian.” But that isn’t so at all. To really follow Him, means to make a commitment to Him. Otherwise, what makes us different from anybody else? How does the love of Christ become anything more than a slew of all the right words and not an effort to walk in His revolutionary love?
It’s His kind of undying love that causes the revolutions in people’s hearts, of what he calls being “born again,” of having a new inner life that’s constantly evolving, constantly being renewed by Him — who’s the only One who truly knows every part of every person’s heart and loves every person passionately, no matter what. It’s about wanting more of Him and His ways, and as you go along, you find out more about who you are — and life’s journey becomes amazing and adventurous. And you start finding His fingerprints everywhere on this planet. Christianity is not about a label; it’s about a Person.
And the only super force I know of on Planet Earth that’s greater than any super evil is Jesus — Love Incarnate.
Rejoicing over our enemies is not what He wants… Remind yourself in His Word. Maybe partly because He doesn’t want that “revenge is sweet” root to get caught in our hearts … because He knows how deep roots grow and how damaging they are … and because that’s not His way, and never will be…
“Bless those who persecute you,” Jesus said. Not easy. Not the choice of my nature. It’s easier to bless the people I love. But words have power, that’s why they can hurt — or heal. And as we speak blessings on another person, the love transformation has great effect, probably more than we realize. The same with intercessory prayer. One of my friends prays specifically for “the bad guys” of the world. I admire that…
P.S. — I started thinking more about Proverbs 24:17 after seeing posts from my friends Jeff and Michael on Facebook. (Thank you, guys!) They both posted this Scripture; interestingly, one of my friends is agnostic, but saw the “disconnect” in some of his Christian friends and their reactions, which is why he posted that Scripture… Just a little “heads-up.” People do notice, and it does make a difference, one way or the other… And I say this knowing I’ve been a really bad witness at times in my life… But there is His forgiveness and grace and mercy and love to get back on track with Him. So I’m not judging anyone… I’m just bringing up a subject that we all, as Christians, need to consider.
And one more Scripture …
“Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live…'” (Ezekiel 33:11, the Message)