Journey with John
Frankly, I am mystified. From where did the ugliness come? It is heartbreaking to listen to reports of the base and degrading things people say and think about other human beings. No “side” is free from blame. When did we reach the place where we had to choose “sides” anyway? And, then, feel we had to degrade another person if they didn’t agree with us? How can you have a healthy conversation once that mentality becomes the norm? I long for the day when a person’s wealth is measured not by the size of a bank account, but by the integrity of the soul. I remain grateful to those of noble disposition who built the foundation for their lives on respect and mercy, such as President Lincoln. A humble man desiring to serve humanity, he saw unity not just as a dream but a sacred possibility. The richness of Mr. Lincoln’s spirit came from his view that human life is to be valued and cherished. “Why do you try to make friends of your enemies?” a politician once asked. “You should try to destroy them.” The president replied, “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?” What a powerful stand to take in a world promoting a “knock them down, take them out” mentality toward one’s adversaries.
President Lincoln was not alone in offering a radical solution to dealing with a protagonist. Jesus, the master of peaceful negotiation, once said, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that….” (Matthew 4:43-47) Ouch…. Love your enemies? What a preposterous notion! And yet, Jesus built His life and our future on just such a notion. Even from the cross, Christ was able to love those who robbed Him of the richness of life, as he cried, “Father, forgive them….”
Love your enemies! What an amazing goal to spend one’s years perfecting. If we placed as much energy and creativity into loving our enemies as we have in paying them back and cultivating hate, what wondrous things might come to our world. “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?” Seems like we should all give it a try. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Lord, for being the perfect example of it working…. God loves you, one and all.