Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who's Up To Teaching The World How To Love?

The reason people kill one-another is sin. Sin feeds on hate, violence, fear, retribution, anger, hostility, bitterness, and unforgiveness...

Much has already been written about the shocking violence in Arizona this weekend. By Monday there will have been discussions in church, pointed sermons, on-line rants, AM radio finger-pointing, and cable talk-show analysis ad-nauseam.

Everybody wants to weigh in when there's tragedy of this scale in the news. Many people talk even when they have nothing helpful to contribute. As Christians, we're supposed to have something useful to offer; something in the realm of hope.

I couldn't help but notice the fact that - in an act of measured brutality so horrific it defies description  - over 20 people were murdered in Mexico at around the same time.

Here's what I think... I don't believe we can talk about the Arizona killings without talking about what's happening in Mexico (and the rest of the planet) in the same breath. It's are all the same thing. Bloodshed in the Middle East, assassinations, "honor" killings, terrorism, even capital punishment. There's too much of death in this deeply broken world.

I'm concerned that we have lost our imagination when it comes to dealing with violence. It seems to me that we're becoming more and more inclined to "fight fire with fire"as a knee-jerk response. I just don't like the track record of that kind of intervention.

I remember an incident when I was a school teacher, working with behavior-disordered children. One week "Kevin" was at odds with everyone, and he made poor choices across the board several days in a row. Friday, unwilling to let the week finish without following through as promised, I invited his parents in for a conference.

"Kevin started two fights yesterday," I said. "He kicked a smaller child in the stomach, he turned over his desk, and he cursed at me repeatedly."

Kevin's dad took a quick step toward his son, let loose a torrent of ripe invective, and smacked Kevin in the side of the face.

Sometimes I think that's as far as we're willing to go anymore. "Don't act that way or we'll beat you up." "Hey, you blow us up and we'll blow you up more!" "You think you're bad? Wait till you see our new weapon..."

Violence is not the solution if we want to end bloodshed. Retaliation always leads to escalation. Tit for tat inevitably leads to more of the same.

"So are you going to let them walk all over you?' is neither an intelligent observation nor does it contribute anything to the long-term resolution of what in the world is behind violence on this planet.

The reason people kill one-another is sin. Sin feeds on hate, violence, fear, retribution, anger, hostility, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

Listen, if Jesus had pulled out a sword and killed the High Priests and the others trying to put him to death, then evil would have prevailed, period.

The Gospel has something constructive to say here and it needs to be shouted from the rooftops. I've quoted this before, quite recently I think, but the concept bears repeating. "In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (John 4)

If we can't/won't teach the world how to love, then what are we doing? Seriously, it's a good question. We need to take a leadership role vis-√†-vis what it means to love out loud. Gospel quality love.
  • Blood spilled over a sidewalk in Tucson, Arizona. 
  • Body parts dumped in public places in Mexico. 
  • Love is the only antidote to fear. 
  • God is love. 
  • Love came down at Christmas and stayed around long enough to face down death and fear.
We need to learn to live love more eloquently; more convincingly; more effectively. We need to love more like Jesus.

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