Friday, April 14, 2006

An Eye for an Eye... or Love Your Enemies

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Today is Good Friday, a day when we remember that Christ was taken into custody, beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross.

A side trip in history... it was not Rome who sought his death, nor was it the Jewish people. It was Caiaphas and Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of the Chief Priest Caiaphas, and he was once also once the chief priest himself. Annas, a banker who had no less than eight family members filling the seats of the high counsel, and while chief priest himself, was responsible for bringing the money changers into the temple. You couldn't bring Roman money into the temple, previously, and Annas made sure the exchange of money from Roman to Jewish was at a high rate to benefit his pockets; Pharisees with a lot to lose if Jesus convinced the people that they were wrongly leading the Jews in their faith plotted to bring Jesus down. Remember the scene at the Temple, where Jesus got angry at the money changers? The kiosks padded the pockets of these two men, and it was there that the strife started. Remember, Jesus was even brought to Annas's house (a midnight meeting, where only Anna's supporters were present!) before being sent to Caiaphas to for trial. The Sanhedrin could have had Jesus arrested at any time, but it was God's plan that he should die during the Passover.

But, this isn't all about free will vs. predestination, Judas, the Sanhedrin clique or about politics. It was about something Jesus taught, and the fact that he followed his own teaching (do as I say and as I do) when the time came for him to suffer at the hands of the Roman soldiers.

Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus speaks on the 'An Eye for an Eye'... "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Jesus is telling us that revenge is pointless. There is nothing to be gained, but we only have our own sanity to lose. If our brother strikes us, and we strike him back, we only end up beating the crap out of each other. If we are sued because we have something another wants, it is better to just give it to them... it is just stuff, and if they want it badly enough to usurp it from us, there is no sense in fighting over it. Give them the tunic plus the cloak, and they can't turn around and say 'You cheated me!'. When pushed to go the distance in a way you don't like, surpass it, put on a patient smile, and walk with them for double the distance. Don't allow the world to cloud your good natured outlook.

Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus speaks on 'Love for Enemies'... "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

This section points out that we can't hate our enemies, but it goes beyond that. It tells us that we should strive for perfection... just as our heavenly Father is perfect. God does not hate those who hate him. He does not exclude them from the world. He allows the sun to rise for them, and give rain to them. If we just hug only our friends, and just offer ourselves to only our friends, we don't exactly embrace God.

I tend to think of these verses when I hear the word 'clique'. The Sanhedrin crowd all stayed close to each other, the elite of the people. The tax collectors all hung out together because no one else wanted them around. The pagans did the same. No one ever reached out to those who were not considered 'of my clique'. We have to remember, tho, that the Good News spread because people followed Christ's words... they reached out to those who were not 'of their clique'.

Extending a hand of friendship to someone you hate, or to someone who has hurt you, is probably the hardest thing to do. We sometimes fear we will have that hand bitten and mauled. When that fear hits us, go back to the 'eye for an eye' thing. We should never be 'people pleasers', but we can strive towards pleasing God by trying to be a bit more Christ-like. When Christ died, he did not come back full of wrath. He did not wave his hand and destroy all those who hurt him. He did not smite Annas or Caiaphas. He did not pluck the souls of the Soldiers (who physically crucified him!) from this earth and burn them before all the world as an example of his might. Neither did he tell the apostles to write horrible things about them in blogs (hint hint. LOL) If our friendship is rejected and we are slapped, then we can turn the other cheek (forgive) pray for them (uplift their needs before God.)

"Forgive them, Father, for what they are doing"... the true expression of Love.

(Picture sent via email. Artist Spencer Williams)


Life's Many Wonders. said...

Beautiful post Thane. You are right as well. We must learn to forgive and learn to love. Open our arms to those who we normally wouldn't. Let our hearts heal. And show others, this place can use more love, and a lot less hate.

Anonymous said...

We will never comprehend the suffering Christ went through for us.In order to become like Him, we must conquer outselves, and then go to and conquer all the evil that we see around us, as far as we possibly can. And we will do it without using violence; we will do it without interfering with the agency of men or of women. We will do it by persuasion, by long-suffering, by patience, and by forgiveness and love unfeigned, by which we will win the hearts, the affections and the souls of the children of men to the truth as God has revealed it to us.No one said it wouldn"t be hard to turn the other cheek when someone hurts or offends us, but once we do we immediately know we have done right
even though some may consider it running. Peronally I would rather be called a coward then a troublemaker so I will go on being friends with all who will let me and still speaking to those who wish I wouldn't unless they make it plain they would rather I didn't. Then the burden witll be upon their souls, not mine.I will continue to love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength constantly thanking him for all my many blessings which are too numerous to count. BiddyKelly