"You have heard that is was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persucute you, that you may be children 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." - Matthew 5:43-45 (Words of Jesus)
I have had this blog post bubbling and fermenting in me for days now. As often has happened in my life, many events and occurances have converged in my mind at the same time and have caused me to want to write about my thoughts...if for no other reason than to get them out of my head for a while.
In the past two weeks, I have seen Les Miserables twice, started watching The West Wing (AGAIN!) on Netflix and listened to the first of several sermons at church about God and Country. Needless to say, there are some thoughts about patriotism going around in my head. I am not in public office and don't plan to be...While I respect the military whole-heartedly, I am not a soldier going off to war. How do I serve my country? How do I have the opportunity to serve and show my patriotism? How do I show my faith in God and country and my hope in the future of our great nation?
As those questions were stirring around in my brain, I came across the Bible verse for today. Those red word written above are the words of Jesus. This morning, I felt Jesus was speaking right to me. Loving my enemies and those who persecute me is my way of serving and being patriotic!
There are no persons persecuting me. I am lucky to live in a country where I am free to speak my mind and free to believe what I want. Who are my enemies? Who do I get angry with? (Besides my teenage daughter who I am supposed to be angry at most of the time, right?) I get angry with people who don't agree with me...people that who think differently than me...people who I feel aren't doing the "right" things...people who are mistreating others. I was REALLY angry about the shootings in Connecticut and in the mall in Oregon and in the theater in Colorado. I got angry about how people on Facebook and in the news politicized those shootings for their own political benefits. I get angry when Christians judge others and say hateful things...I guess there are plenty of things that make me angry. Although I wouldn't call those people my enemies, I think this might have been what Jesus was talking about in my case. Some of those things, like the shootings, happened because there is evil in this world. Evil exists, and there is nothing in THIS life that can stop it.
But did you see Jesus' words above...Our Father in Heaven makes the sun rise and the rain fall on the evil and the good, the right and the wrong in the same way. He loves the good people AND the evil people. He doesn't love the evil behavior, but he loves the people. Jesus is telling us that we should love the evil people too...not the evil acts, but the people. It doesn't seem right...it doesn't seem logical...but those are our instructions from the Son of God. Love your enemies as God loves them.
So, it is my duty to God, and then in turn, my patriotic duty to my country, to love my enemies. It is my duty to not just speak of these things but to take the following action steps. It is my duty to NOT say hateful, angry things about people who have different political and religious views than me. It is my duty to love and pray for those who anger me. I do not have to agree with everyone or like the behavior of those who anger me. But speaking out and acting out in hate and anger is counter to what Jesus instructs us to do. I will vote the way I believe. If I see fit, I will campaign for those candidates that I feel will do the best for our country. I will give my support to our military who protects us, even if I don't agree with the wars we are fighting. I will pray for our leaders, those I agree with and even more so for the ones I don't. When I disagree with someone I am working with, I will do my best to work things out in an amicable way, not arguing and saying hateful and disrespectful things behind their backs. If there are people mistreating me or making fun of me, I will pray for them and treat them with the respect they may not deserve.
Those are pretty demanding action steps...I will probably fail to keep up those duties at times. There will probably be times when you will find me not living up to them. But, I will earnestly try. What if each of us TRIED hard to see these action steps as part of our patriotic duty to serve our country? What if we stopped the negative, hateful posts on Facebook and in our emails? Stop bashing liberals...stop bashing conservatives...Stop bashing ANYONE! What if we all tried to follow the instructions of the words written in red above? Love and pray for your enemies. THAT is your patriotic duty as well. Serving your country in this way will bring our country together again!