Patching Cracks

In her book “The Hiding Place,” Dutch Christian Corrie TenBoom recounts her family’s experiences hiding Jews in Holland during WW2. They were eventually discovered, and the entire family was sent to concentration camps. Corrie alone survived the camps. One of the most remarkable moments in the book happens when she is brought in to be interrogated by an SS officer. TenBoom was terrified of being tortured and prayed for God to save her. The officer came in and began questioning the young girl. She began to preach the gospel to the SS officer. The officer responded by breaking down and crying. He confessed his sins to the young girl he was supposed to be torturing. She was dismissed without having been interrogated. The response of the young Dutch girl to the possibility of torture was a powerful example of a teaching of Jesus in action. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus responds to a traditional view that we are to “love our neighbors and hate our enemies.” Instead, Jesus teaches us that we are to “love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.” This is what Jesus did when he prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do,” as he was being crucified. If you look at the world around us right now, it seems as though “an eye for an eye” is the standard rule. Our social and political situation has reached a boiling point where everyone looks to mock, dissociate from, and destroy those who disagree with them. The teachings of Jesus point us in the opposite direction. It’s almost unheard of to hear about folks in opposing political camps treating each other in loving ways. We rarely think to pray for the national leaders of the other party. It’s much easier to indulge in our anger and treat those who hold different political convictions in contempt. It’s easy to scream about bad policy on Facebook, regardless of who we offend or hurt in the process. The reality is that we often generate far more unhappiness in our own lives through our political vitriol than any policy decision made in DC could hope to. Broken relationships have a far more negative impact on our personal life satisfaction than most political happenings. What makes this hard to see in the moment is that our world is constantly running the news past us. Even more so, every event is presented in the most terrifying and urgent manner possible. The news aims to make us upset. The problem is that there is not just one person to aim that anger at. This results in many folks carrying around unspent anger. It makes it easy to cut off a relationship with harsh words over a difference of political opinion. Looking at our culture, it seems as though a little grace is what we need more than anything. Loving our neighbor is more important today than it was 10 years ago. Praying for our enemies is the medicine we need for our own hearts. It will contribute more to our personal happiness than almost anything else. After all, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

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