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Christian pacifism

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus says,
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. ... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

"The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath."

In her pleas to Shylock for her friend the condemned merchant of Venice, Shakespeare's Portia credits God with pouring out both His Grace and His Weather upon us all, good and evil, man and woman, black and yellow, red and white. We are the ones who differentiate and discriminate; God does not.

Portia pleads with Shylock to love his enemy. But she does so in disgust for Shylock, and he knows it. Earlier he describes the rejection he has experienced:

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?
Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions,
   senses, affections, passions;
fed with the same food,
hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
    as a Christian is?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

There are always reasons for revenge, and both men and countries have fallen like dominos throughout history since the Great Fall of Adam and Eve. Their son Cain killed Abel, and thus began the ravaging.

The difference between the best and worst of us seems so great from our own frowning, tight, jaundiced eyes. Reaching out to each other with clenched fists we touch little that is warm or even alive.

To God, we are all so full of ourselves, so far from how he made us, so far from Him. All of us, all of us. Jesus insists that I see first myself, and then you, through his eyes. He would have me slash away all my judgments and see the Nazis and the Jews, see the Shiites and the Kurds, see the Illini and the Hawkeyes, even the Red states and Blue states as God does - through a single lens, all created ones, all children together, all loved, all always loved.

Lord this does not happen out of my own strength. My mind and eyes are weak. I must follow you, see through your eyes. You can teach me this way of seeing.

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