Not too long ago, a friend had some rather harsh words for me, accusing me of being blind to what was going on in the nation. This person was offended that I was not railing against a particular side in our current national divide, and that I was instead preaching this notion of loving others, even if those others are attempting to persecute a large portion of the population. It was not the first time that a friend has made that statement, and it will not be the last.
When Jesus was living in Israel two thousand years ago, Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire. The Jewish people faced far greater restrictions and impositions than any of us living in America today experience. Yet in the midst of that, Jesus never had harsh words for the governing Romans. The Jews were hoping that Jesus would free them politically and militarily, but what they saw instead was a man focused on the religious condition of the people. No doubt there were many in Jewish leadership who thought that Jesus was blind to what was going on in the nation.
Jesus knew that man is inherently evil, and that we will forever be coming up with ways to knock others down in our attempts to rise above. Therefore, Jesus desires that our hearts be “born again”, filled with the good Spirit of God so that the evil of man is replaced with a desire for God’s righteousness. The end goal isn’t that we become less evil, but that we become good.
Unfortunately, the accepted practice of mankind seems to be that we find ways to become less evil. For whatever reason, it seems that many people don’t understand that when you take something that is evil, and you make it less evil, you still have something that is evil. This is exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was referring to when he said “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Man’s way of trying to be less evil won’t work. Instead, the path of love set forth by Jesus must be the way.
I’m not blind to the evils going on around me. I see the pain and the injustice, the factions fighting to control each other, demanding our allegiance. I just reject the notion that the path forward is to pick a side and try to be less evil. My eyes are set on following Jesus, and following his commands. In the process, I am going to fail on multiple occasions, but my default setting is to love God and love my neighbors. In the process of seeking after God’s righteousness, I expect that we will soothe some pain, fix some injustices, and make the world around us a bit better. Jesus had the right idea, Dr. King embraced it, and I’m simply trying to follow along that narrow path after them.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron