Tuesday, November 12, 2013

And the rocket's red glare, and the bombs bursting in air

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10

So wandering throughout all of the commentaries on this passage, it is the consensus that The Crux, yeah, as in the cross, of good and pleasing and perfect is love.  And there is nothing half-hearted or feigned or discriminatory about this love.  We are to hate non-love, evil, as it were hell itself, which, I guess, it is.

The word "abhor" means to hate; to turn from; to avoid. The word "evil" here has reference to malice, or unkindness, rather than to evil in general. The apostle is exhorting to love, or kindness; and between the direction to love all people, and the particular direction about brotherly love, he places this general direction to abhor what is evil in relation to the subject under discussion, that is, malice or unkindness. –Barnes

αγαπη ανυποκριτος· Have no hypocritical love; let not your love wear a mask; make no empty professions. Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere.
Abhor that which is evil - Αποστυγουντες το πονηρον· Hate sin as you would hate that hell to which it leads. Στυγεω signifies to hate or detest with horror; the preposition απο greatly strengthens the meaning. Στυξ, Styx, was a feigned river in hell by which the gods were wont to swear, and if any of them falsified this oath he was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a hundred years; hence the river was reputed to be hateful, and στυγεω signified to be as hateful as hell. -Clarke

Not only must there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must not harbour anger against enemies. It is but mock love, which rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them. Be ready to entertain those who do good: as there is occasion, we must welcome strangers. Bless, and curse not. It means thorough good will; not, bless them when at prayer, and curse them at other times; but bless them always, and curse not at all. –Matthew Henry

This certainly clears out my schedule. We as believers spend far too much energy and time in non-love.  

And as I was in the three-day process of meditating on Romans 12, reading it over and over, holding it up as a lens for considering the world around me as to what is good and pure and perfect I attended a Veteran’s Day Honor Celebration. And the cutest kids ever sang songs, and pledges were spoken and grand applauses rang out for those who have served their country because a great deal of sacrifice has been offered up over the years. 

But I gotta say the main speaker guy broke my heart. He was an Air Force lieutenant colonel or something and he showed us videos from his pilot control panels and missiles from antiaircraft guns were flying and planes were down and bombs were dropped that exploded accidentally and the whole point was the brotherly affection as they dropped their load of bombs over Baghdad and then always got back in time for dinner.  Day after day. And then he read Romans 12:1-10 in a loud cheerful voice. And my heart was with the folks, friends and family of people I know and love huddled on their floors with plywood in the windows because they got blown out every day and I am not sure they always got back for dinner.

And I have no idea what to do with all of my sick at heart at all of the pomp and circumstance and glory being modeled to my sweet little students, and they had all of the sixteen-year-olds stand up and these are the kids who wanted to go to World War II so badly they lied about their age and then have all of the eighteen-year-olds stand up and this is who fills our ranks. And it’s kinda hard to yank my thoughts away from it, as I am wondering about blessing our enemies always, and not cursing them ever. 

And the Lieutenant guy didn’t read the rest of the passage:
Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.

If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. Do your best to live in peace with everyone. My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,”says the Lord. But you should do this:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” 
Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

And our Sunday teaching was what do we do when our brothers and sisters disagree with our understanding of Scripture. And there really wasn’t an answer except to pray. And what do I do when so many of my brothers and sisters who I love and admire and work with all day every day to disciple young people to make a difference in their world have beloved fathers and mothers and uncles and cousins and sons and daughters dedicating their lives to what I understand to be abhorrent. 

And around my neck I wear a small sparkly diamond and silver pendent from one of the people who lives under the bombs. And one of the tiny diamonds has fallen out because I wear it all the time. And eleven people died in Baghdad yesterday.  And 229 civilians have died this month so far. And over 7,500 this year. And yesterday she mixed a combination on Candy Crush Saga and I know that because of Facebook. And her family ended up in Syria for a while but then one day she sent me a YouTube clip taken from the balcony of her apartment, of soldiers piling out of army jeeps and machine gunning rows and rows of funeral marchers and they all just fell to the ground all spattered in blood. And her family has filled out all of the forms and stood in all the lines and been interviewed so many times and are still waiting to immigrate to Canada because they got approved to come to the United States but they would have to leave Grandma behind and they couldn’t do that, so she plays another game of Candy Crush while she waits. 

And those faces of the bombers, from the PowerPoint we watched as we listened to the chorus, I know them too. And I remember when that one kid was Injun Joe and hid in the closet, and I remember sitting with another late after the sixth grade campfire and looking at the stars and wondering what life would bring.  And yet another other kid threw up on the ferry to marine biology camp Catalina Island and I held his head in my lap because he didn’t feel so good.

Dear LORD, have mercy. You do have mercy. On all. 

Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Romans 12:14-16

And my mom is signing up to teach English to refugees from Iraq and Pakistan and Syria because that is what brings her joy.