A Righteous Love

In the most radical, counter-culture ethic ever proclaimed – “The Sermon on the Mount” found in the Gospel of Matthew (ch. 5-7) – Jesus taught the world how to be righteous in our love.

“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…” (Matt. 5.43-44, TNIV)

Most of us believe such a moral demand to be a nice sentiment. But most of us have also believed at one time or another that loving your enemies and praying for your persecutors is unrealistic in the real world, especially when we realize that it is impossible to love and pray for such people when we wish ill on them (and perhaps even actively try to gain revenge).
In fact, just imagine praying for someone who has done harm to you or seeking what is best for someone who despises you. Sounds completely absurd! Imagine feeling compassion and remorse for someone who has just murdered part of your family. This sounds too ridiculous to be true in our world… except it is true.

Rather than dwell on the victims — though this is a close-knit community, where few are strangers — Amish residents spoke of their concern for Roberts’ family; their sorrow that a man could become so unhinged, so alienated from the Lord.

“I wish someone could have helped him out, poor soul. It’s
obvious that something was troubling him,” said Steve, a 54-year-old carpenter who, like many here, would not give his full name. Of the tragedy, he would say only that it was “uncalled for,” and unexpected.
An Amish woman who gave her name as Irene also expressed compassion for the gunman. “I am very thankful,” she said, “that I was raised to believe you don’t fight back. You should forgive.”
(This story appeared in the L.A. Times, click on my link to see the full story)

I think we all can learn a lot from the way this Amish community is responding to such a horrible tragedy and the way they are tangibly loving their enemy and praying for their persecutor. The ethic of Jesus is not a goal to lofty for the real world, it is just a matter whether we want to continue living out this fallen real world or live in the real world that the grace of God will allow us to become. May we all learn to live out this righteous love in our own lives!

8 responses to “A Righteous Love

  1. It is amazing how this anabaptist community has responded to such a horrible act of violence.

    A reporter asked about their response to this tragedy, and a lady simply stated that ‘this is what it looks like to know the Lord’ (a paraphrase of course).

    Maybe this will show Christians how much like the world we actually are, and how far we have to go before our lives show what it looks like to know the Lord.

  2. hey rex,
    I found your link on someone else’s sight. how are you guys?
    I started taking online classes through memphis. we are good, enjoying new jersey.
    take care and email me

  3. You know, many people talk about how extraordinary these Amish people are in the way they have dealt with this tragedy, including evangelical Christians. It seems that the Amish do not see this as anything extraordinary at all. This is the norm, not the exception for a Christ like attitude. I have reflected on this on my blog as well and would appreciate your insights.

  4. Amen, Amen, Amen Rex!

    What a testament this community has been with their willingness to radically love when it would be so easy to be filled with hate.

  5. Rex,
    Great post.
    I am so thankful for God’s love. I am still trying to gasp how deep, wide, high, long is that love is.
    I am glad I came across your blog and enjoyed reading it. Look forward to reading more.

  6. Rex?

    Wow. It’s been ages since I heard from you. You sat right behind me in Art Appreciation at Harding in the fall of 2000. I saw your comment on Ben Witherington’s blog and was pleasantly surprised by what I read. I think it might surprise you to learn that there is probably a big movement underway (due, in no small part, to the current violent state of world affairs and U.S. foreign policy), especially among college students, to thoughtfully re-examine issues of pacifism and Just War theory. I myself am a pacifist, and I know a few others (Jonathan Storment is, I believe, a pacifist) among my age cohort. Yoder’s Mennonite pacifism has hit even the churches of Christ via Lee Camp.

    But I’m very thankful for the Amish living out the ethic of the peaceable kingdom.

  7. Stoned-Campbell Disciple

    I think we have a lot to learn from the Amish as well. Thanks for a good blog.

    Bobby Valentine

  8. I think a persecution of this magnitude is far from anything most of use would experience on any given day. We think that our world is bad because our food gets cold or we are persecuted because we have to endure an unexciting worship service. It seems that the love and compassion exhibited by the amish community in light of this crisis is not something we can simply choose to adopt when tragedy strikes. It is a matter of conditioning our hearts with the “persecutions” we face daily.

    Thanks for the post!

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