Last week I started a discussion (You can read it in my post A Dream of Heaven). I asked a question:
“Is it really possible, do I really believe, that peace can overcome all the violent evil I see in the world around me?”
Another headline has gripped the world’s attention. Another tragedy has ripped apart our sense of peace, our sense of security, our sense of who we are.
And the world cries out in anger and confusion. It cries out searching for answers. It cries out searching for retribution.
It cries out searching for blood.
For blood, we say to ourselves and anyone who will listen, is the only way justice can be satisfied.
A pretty well known man, a pastor, recently wrote about the tragedies that have rocked Brussels and Istanbul: “Kill them before they kill us.”
And that sentiment is echoed on the world stage by almost all of us.
But I have a question:
How’s that retribution been working for us?
All these years. Far longer than IS or Al Qaeda have been around. Far longer than America or Europe or any nation has been around.
The only thing retribution has wrought is more violence.
We see them as the bad guys. They see us as the bad guys.
They want to pay us back for the evils we committed against them, we want to pay them back for the evils they committed against us.
And the blood turns the wheel, and the world continues to spin, and more blood is spilled.
So, how do we stop this? Where do we break this cycle?
How can we change the force pushing the wheel from blood to water? The Living Water?
Peace. Compassion. Relationships.
That sounds very lofty. Sounds very kumbaya. Maybe a little too Sesame Street.
Funny thing is, it’s exactly what Jesus said.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9
No, I’m not cherry-picking a Bible verse to back up my ideas. This is not out of context. However, this is not easy for us to believe. It’s not easy for us to live.
“It’s hard to believe in Jesus! To believe in Jesus fully, to believe in Jesus as more than a personal Savior, to believe in Jesus without qualifications, to believe in Jesus as God’s way to run the world, to believe in Jesus and his Sermon on the Mount, to believe in Jesus as the unimagined solution for a world gone wrong and not merely chaplain or cheerleader for our favorite version of the status quo is very hard to do. It is also very controversial.” – Brian Zahnd, A Farewell to Mars (Chapter 4).
The problem that lies at the heart of all of the evil we see is brokenness. Broken relationships. Nonexistent relationships. An unwillingness to build that relationship. It’s why husbands and wives divorce. It’s why children want nothing to do with parents. It’s why we rail against the “1%”. It’s why the poor are trampled by the rich, why the weak are ground into the dust by the powerful, why the hurting and angry and frustrated take up arms against their oppressors or those they believe perpetrate evil against them. And it’s why we rally around the war machine to seek justice against terror and atrocities.
Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth.
Blood for blood.
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:38-45
Jesus’ solution? Restored relationships. Peace. Compassion. Love.
It is hard to believe in Jesus’ solution. It’s hard to live it. But until we do, until we seek to restore relationships, or build new ones, we will continue this cycle. We will continue to see the bloodshed. Mothers ripped from their children. Children who will never see another day of play or joy or peace. Poverty will continue to devour with insatiable hunger. Violence will continue to conquer and destroy us all.
I’m not pointing my fingers. This isn’t something that I’ve wrapped my arms around fully. I’m challenging myself. I’m challenging all of us.
Until we believe. Until we live it.
It’s Compassion Wednesday! Instead of highlighting social justice organizations, I’m highlighting where true social justice, true justice, can be found. Only in compassion. Only through restoration, peace, and love. It’s Jesus’ solution. Harder to say than to live, but so crucial to get this. So crucial to move beyond
Don’t forget to sign-up for my monthly Newsletter to keep up to date with all that’s going on. When you sign up now, you get my two Scifi short stories as a gift!