My journey through the Bible took a small detour yesterday called Busch Gardens. I accomplished none of my goals and was too tired at night to do much of anything other than fall in bed and sleep.
With that being said I didn’t listen to a single minute of an audio book yesterday nor go to the gym nor read my 30 pages in a physical book. Every goal fell by the wayside as I was too completely and utterly exhausted to do anything.
With the Tower of Babel the last Biblical story on my mind it was what I thought of when the question arose in discussions of if everyone can receive God’s grace and forgiveness. Now the God of the early Bible doesn’t appear to be the same just and loving God of the latter portion of the Bible, but let’s forget that for a second.
Let’s join the two. Let us believe that God is love and that he has instructed us to love our enemies and to do everything we do from a place of love. Here then we have a homogeneous human race running around and building large towers up to Heaven. This brand of humanity’s ability to work together makes them too efficient. Too close to being God-like. Therefore God destroys the tower, scatters humanity, and confuses their languages.
Now what if it wasn’t humanity’s arrogance or ingenuity that displeased God but their sameness. Here is a vision of early humanity as being all alike. All speaking the same language and working towards the same goals. God then scatters and divides humanity, and perhaps it is for the exact purpose of making us different. For if we are all the same then there is no lesson to learn from one another.
At times it is that we need a struggle to find our strength. Jesus teaches that true strength isn’t the strength of conquest or domination but strength of empathy, love, grace, and forgiveness. True strength is being able to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, to not judge or condemn, and to forgive and give without need of recompense.
With this all in mind what does it mean to live a life of love? What does it mean to live a life in Christ as so many like to say?
The discussion at church this morning was about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A man that felt that not only is Christ the center of the church but that we must view all believers as our brothers and sisters. Now I have said in the past that I believe that the Evangelicals decidedly do not embody the will of Christ and should be excommunicated.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man that left his own church to join a new one because he was disgusted that the German church had aligned itself with Hitler and that the only Christian thing to do was oppose Hitler to the point that he took part in a conspiracy to kill Hitler.
The debate as to the justification for killing evil men is as old as time. In fact God himself allows the first murderer, Cain, to walk the earth and build a line of descendants. God punished Cain by not punishing him. He placed a mark upon him and forbade anyone from harming Cain.
But God is not Jesus. If Christ is the center of the Christian church then how do we love our enemies when our enemy is one of the most evil man the world has ever seen? I will tell you if I were in a room right now with Vladimir Putin and could put him down I would. I would not hesitate a second.
If Christ is love and Christ is the center of our Christian faith and he commands us to forgive then how can we not forgive universally, even including the worst humanity has to offer? The answer for me is that we can. There is a point where the act of love and grace involves putting madness down. People like Hitler and Putin have gone too far. The only act of love left is to end them. To end them for their own good and for the good of humanity.
When it comes to my own life in Christ and a life of love and grace I do not think this was meant to be easy. I have a battle coming. I am going to have to argue and war with people that view themselves as Christian and trying to live their own life in Christ. Instead of having a list of dos (love, forgive, give, understand) they have a list of dogmas and don’ts.
For these people religion is a cudgel to wield to oppress, judge, and condemn. As a parent I want my children to have a full and complete education. I want them to undertake a journey to knowledge and understanding and this is simply impossible in an education system that refuses to be honest and teach a full and complete picture of the world.
If we refuse to acknowledge the existence of the LGBTQ+ community or the fact that our Founding Fathers owned slave or that some people do not identify as their birth gender then we are not on a path to understanding but in the shadows of ignorance.
How I combat the people that wish to hide truth and understanding from my children must be from a place of love. I must do my best to feel empathy for them as I do for the people they hate and wish to oppress. I must try and understand their position and their point of view. They understand Christ far different than I do, but like me they are offered the bread and the cup. They have a place at the table and it is at that table where I must meet them with love, understanding, and grace. It is from there that I must attempt to show them that I come from a place of love and that my argument is, first and foremost, founded in love.
This is extremely difficult because I want to tell these bottle-blond over-the-hill grandmas to walk off into the graveyard where they belong, but I cannot. I must offer them my love. I must understand that they are my brothers and sisters. They are the brothers and sisters of all humanity, just like me, and I must formulate my argument with all the purity of love inside myself and then, perhaps, I can help them see the Christ I see and they will stop their foolish ways.