Tomorrow is Love Your Neighbor Day.

<<Edited to add: I was going to post this tomorrow (Friday, September 10th) but because I have a wedding tomorrow I wrote it today.  And then I forgot that I was going to post it tomorrow and just posted it.  So I’m referring to September 11th.  Thanks, Taryn. 🙂 >>

I would love to rant about “Burn a Qu’ran Day,” but I don’t want to give that Florida pastor any more face time.  How dare he disgrace my Jesus in that way.

Tomorrow is September 11th.  It is also Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.  My friend Asraa describes Eid as Christmas – she cooks and cleans for days and then they visit friends and feast and laugh well into the morning.  So while followers of Islam celebrate, we Americans remember a painful day in U.S. history.

Perhaps lashing out in the form of Qu’ran-burning or Mosque-protesting can be justified.  The 2,996 deaths during the World Trade Center attacks were absolutely tragic, as are the ensuing physical and psychological effects on those who participated in the search and rescue.  Also tragic are the 4,000+ U.S. troop casualties in Iraq and 31,000+ wounded.

But what about the nearly 10,000 Iraqi soldier deaths?  The estimated 55,000 Iraqi insurgent deaths?  The estimated 50,000-100,000+ (and in some estimates, 600,000+) Iraqi civilian deaths?  The 2.1 million displaced Iraqis being resettled as refugees?  Are these tragedies as well?

Why do we believe a death justifies a death?  Jesus said, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword,” yet in the name of Caesar; in the name of the United States; in the name of Christianity – we draw the sword to avenge what was taken from us.  We burn Qu’rans and protest Mosques and condemn “Islamic Fascists.”

Those who quote Old Testament Scripture of “an eye for an eye,” neglect to recall Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where he taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God,” and “You have heard it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.  If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to the them the other cheek also.”

In that same sermon, he taught, “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 children of your Father in heaven.”

A death does not justify a death.

But one death did justify all.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are commanded to love God and love your neighbor.  According to Jesus, these are the two greatest commandments.  And Scripture teaches, “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not do what he commands are liars, and the truth is not in them.”

So begs the question: is a Muslim your neighbor?

Is an Iraqi your neighbor?

Is a Florida pastor who is instigating a disastrous event your neighbor?

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Eid with my neighbor.  And in December, she may celebrate Christmas with me.  And maybe we’ll talk about Jesus, or maybe she will just know that it is my love for him that compels and equips my love for her and for anyone.

While our nation prompts us tomorrow to remember, I challenge – what if we forget?  What if, instead of dwelling on the ways we’ve been wronged, we seek instead to bring truth, healing, dialogue, and love?  What if, instead of priding ourselves on our American citizenship, we are humbled by our adoption in Christ?

What if we asked, “What does it look like to love, serve, and obey God today?”

Not that I have any of this figured out.

But what if.

2 Responses

  1. Kayla Goebel

    Kendra.
    You have a wonderful way with words, it must run in your family. Thank you for this. And for your previous post. Both are wonderful representations of love and are thought provoking. Thank you for challenging me to be more like Jesus and less like the world.

    k~

  2. While I have to agree that the innocent lives destroyed are indeed tragedies across the board, whether American or not, I take issue with you citing what Jesus said about “those who live by the sword” as implying that fighting (and by consequence, killing) are entirely wrong and unnecessary.  Because He also said that He “…did not bring piece, but a sword…” did He not (Matt. 10:34)?  So, I ask where the argument stands at that?  Those “poor” insurgents made the same choice men and women like myself did.  Ignorantly or not, to passionately believe in something and place their lives on the line in the name of it.  I don’t presume to know what that thing may be, but they’ve 
    made it clear that they are willing to kill or oppress any and all in the name of trying to force it on everyone.  Rather than permitting the choice.  And now that push came to shove, they lost, and I, therefore, feel no remorse for the insurgents as they feel none for my fallen brothers and sisters.  The point being that while a death never justifies a death, or an act of terrorism an act of terrorism, there is no such thing as a fair fight in this world because sometimes, there are people who honestly believe there is no other way but to fight.  And you can’t negotiate, reason or compromise with them because they are out to subjugate or kill you, period.  There is no middle ground for them, there is no loving you as you are and they can’t see far enough past themselves to realize that you would not have them change simply because you believe something different.  It’s a truly sad state humanity finds itself in.  And it breaks my heart.  To that end I agree completely Kendra.  What if?  I always remind people when the issue of race comes up that it makes little difference to me because we are all Americans.  What you’ve posed here is much further reaching than that.  And I thank you for that.  I think I am going to take this and run with it my own life.  You’ve definitely demonstrated the kind of reasoning and wisdom that could turn this world around.  And it deeply saddens me that there are people who will never see it.  You give people like me hope, because it reminds us that, ironically I guess, there is something worth defending still left in people.  Even if, though it may never be right or justified, it means killing, or dying, to do so.

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