No support or aid for the enemy- no matter what."
As we were driving home from the EleventySeven show in Greenville last night, I noticed this bumper sticker on one of those big semi-trucks... Right next to another one that said "Serve God- He is good, all the time."
I feel a disconnect here. Not in supporting our troops- our troops are protecting our country and everything "we've" ("we" being the man- a topic for another day) worked for. And while I may not agree with everything they're doing, THEY often don't agree with everything they're doing. My idea of supporting our troops is praying for them and serving them in whatever ways I can- sending care boxes, etc.
However, I think that a version of Christianity that provides "no support or aid for the enemy, no matter what" isn't my Jesus' version of Christianity- it's the type of Christianity that Shaine Claiborne is talking about when he says, "We didn't invent Christianity in America- we just domesticated it."
Let's, just for a minute, pretend that God did intend for us to be cruel towards our enemies' existence. How do we define who our enemies are?
In the case of this war on terror- are our enemies the terrorists alone? Their wives and kids, who may or may not have been "brainwashed" by their male leaders? The entire countries of Iraq and Afghanistan? All Muslims?
And what does "no comfort or aid" mean? That we don't try to help these women and children, making sure that they get clean water and good food during wartime? That Muslim children can't come to the States (or any other country, for that matter) and study at the best schools with our children? That when another conflict comes up, we don't rise to help the Iraqi and Afghani citizens because we have this grudge? Or does it merely mean we get to torture them at Guantanamo (or anywhere else) without feeling guilty?
Or, if you're warring something else- say, abortion- who are your enemies? Just the doctors and nurses who perform the abortions? The lawmakers who make it so that abortions are legal? The women who pay for abortions? The people who are uneducated about abortion and thus blindly support it? The people who ARE educated, but choose to educate others without all the facts?
And for them, what does no "comfort or aid" mean? That we don't let those doctors have their retirement? That we don't allow those women to receive counseling services?
If we focus solely on our enemies, there's too much of a grey area. People will never decide (and agree on) who our enemies should be- thus never being able to determine who deserves our comfort or aid.
But let's quit pretending. God does not call us to refuse aid or comfort to our enemies- actually, I believe He calls us to do just the opposite.
Proverbs 25:21 says, "If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink."
In Matthew 5:44-45, Matthew records that Jesus said, "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."
In Luke 6:27-36, Luke recounts the same teaching of Jesus- but he finishes it with "You must be compassionate, as the Father is compassionate."
Ok, so- God's plan of action is not for me to hate my enemies, to deny them aid or comfort, or to seek them out in order to do those things- it is for me to actually GIVE them comfort, compassion, and love- the things the heart of the Father beats for.
But again, we must decide- what is a grey area and what is not? What does having compassion for my enemy mean?
Does it mean I hide out terrorists in my basement? That I give money to Planned Parenthood? That I "forget" everything that's ever been done wrong by anyone?
I don't think so. Someone- I think it might've been hannaHRose- said to me one time that accepting someone doesn't mean you accept everything that they've done wrong. It simply means that you accept them as the person that they are, underneath those actions.
So that means that if I run into a terrorist (reminds me of when Michael Scott says to Dwight, "If I step on a land mine in Scranton, PA, you can have my job.")... If they are hungry and thirsty, I will most likely treat them as I would treat anyone else who was hungry or thirsty- offer them food or drink. And then report them.
But that's unlikely to happen. I am much more likely to interact with a totally different brand of enemy- maybe in the other scenario I explored, the abortion one. Say I end up talking to an abortionist, one who doesn't see that what they are doing is wrong, and takes human life. How do I respond to them?
Honestly, I would have a hard time with that. I would have no idea how to respond in that situation.
And I think that's where the "pray for those who persecute you" comes in.
The whole point is that I can't do this on my own. I can't love on my enemies on my own strength. The only way I can handle that is to pray for them, to place them, and my personal feelings, in the hands of God.
In the end, it is not me who judges them. In the end, I will be standing right next to them, being responsible for my actions.
Will my actions reflect a loving, Christ-like attitude towards all I met- enemies or not? An attitude that allowed everyone around me to interact with and see Jesus and Christianity in a new perspective? A perspective that maybe allowed them to accept my Jesus, the Jesus who lived and breathed and walked this Earth, instead of the Christianity that they've seen around them?