The culture wars have broken out on social media. Between American flags, confederate flags, rainbow flags, and Christian flags, it seems that everyone is offended. Everyone is clamoring to be heard. Some say the church has behaved badly. Others claim the LGBT groups are trying to destroy religious freedom. Some fear persecution. Others have tasted discrimination.
Stop. Just stop.
Step away from the issues for a bit. Set aside your well-studied opinions long enough to reflect on another culture war. In Jesus’ day, the Romans and the Jews often clashed in matters of politics and culture. As usual, Jesus had some revolutionary ideas about how His disciples should behave…
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48 NLT)
Frankly, I don’t like some of these instructions. I don’t want to be kind to those who say hateful things about me or those like me. I don’t want to let the “other side” malign “my side”. I want to claim my rights. I want to fight back with logic and persuasion. I want to show the rightness of my beliefs.
However, these are the words of Jesus. He is the one we claim to follow. Jesus’ primary concern is establishing HIS eternal Kingdom in our hearts. The earthly kingdoms come and go with time. Do we have the strength and humility necessary to follow His instructions? To truly love our perceived enemies? To turn the other cheek? To lay down our rights for the sake of the Gospel?
When I look at His example when He was here on earth, I am ashamed of myself. Jesus was spit upon, beaten, mocked, called names, reviled, and put to death. He certainly had the power to call down angels from heaven to destroy those who persecuted Him, but He had a different Kingdom in mind. Jesus knew that by delaying His rightful position as King, He was ushering in a new Kingdom…one that would transform the hearts of those who come to Him. He knew that all things would be made right at the perfect time…both in heaven and on earth.
With Jesus’ words in mind, maybe we should reconsider our role in these culture wars. Maybe our humble response will be the catalyst to bring about an even greater good–one that connects people with their Creator!!
I pray that when my turn comes, I will be brave enough to be filled with the Father’s love, strength, and wisdom.