Today, I was thinking about what I would do if a stranger tried to abduct my child. Would I sit still and pray? Well, knowing me, I would certainly pray but I would never sit still; I would do everything in my power to protect and fight for my child.
And so it is with my country. I believe that as a Christian, prayer and action must go hand in hand.
For most Christians, there are genuine concerns with our society. When seen from a Christians perspective, many things in our culture are completely outrageous. Partial birth abortion is completely outrageous; the proliferation of pornography on the Internet is completely outrageous; and, recently, a San Francisco field trip for a class of first graders to participate in a lesbian wedding is completely outrageous.
We are clearly in God-less times and the tension around us has nothing to do with terrorism, the economy or the upcoming election. We, in my opinion, are experiencing a spiritual warfare -- simply put: the fight between good and evil .
So the question is this: Since Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, is it okay for a Christian to firmly stand up for what is morally right in our culture?
I think so.
All of Jesus teachings enrich and challenge us as human beings. Some, like "love your enemies," are easy to understand though difficult to follow. Others, like "I have come to cause division," are puzzling.
Living the Truth of Jesus
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." (Luke 12:51).
Why did Jesus come on earth? What was his mission? Was he sent for unity or division, for life or death, for love or hate?
The answer is quite clear: Jesus came that we might have life in great abundance. (John 10:10). But there is a deep, universal paradox here. As we hear in Luke's Gospel, it would appear that division, not peace, is Jesus' real mission.
Poet T.S. Eliot provides an insight about this: "Beneath the bleeding hands we feel / The sharp compassion of the healers art."
The surgeon cuts away the cancer; indeed a bloody, divisive act, yet the motive is not to inflict pain and suffering but, rather, to bring healing to further the fullness of life. No false tenderness allows the healer to withhold the knife; no good parent avoids disciplining his or her child. To bring health and peace, pain must be inflicted .
Jesus causes division wherever there are unhealthy and unholy unions. Out of compassion and love, He separates us from everything that keeps us from the love of the Father. This may appear cruel but it is in fact a great act of divine kindness. Shakespeare has Hamlet addressing his mother, the queen, in these words: "I must be cruel only to be kind."
Pope John XXIII spoke often about peace, the peace that is the Kingdom of God. In his encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), he maintains that peace demands four elements: truth, freedom, charity and justice. Jesus came to inaugurate that Kingdom; he came to express truth, to incarnate love, to foster freedom and to promote justice. In this mission there would be much division, since people often opted for untruth and indifference, slavery and injustice.
Each of us must distinguish graced division from divisions that are simply destructive. The surgeons knife separates a diseased organ or a tumor from the body -- a moment of grace. An abortionist kills a child in the mother's womb -- a horrendous sin. We are given the same choice: to be messengers of life and peace, or to be instruments of death and chaos.
Before Communion, Catholics pray, "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you." So when we read, "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division," we know that Jesus is making reference to what is called a false peace, one in which relationships are not harmonious. Jesus will have nothing to do with such unions -- He will split them apart out of love and for the sake of truth .
The human condition that we are steeped in is ambiguous. Choices, at times, have to be made that in fact cause division and pain. We need but note the work of the following Christians: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler; Martin Luther King, Jr., in his ministry to secure human rights; Thomas Merton in his stand against nuclear war; Dorothy Day, who fought against the status quo that kept so many in radical poverty. All of them came to bring not peace, but division. These disciples of Christ fought for the big peace, the Kingdom of God .
God's word is a two-edged sword. God's word admonishes us in our sin; God's word consoles us in our desolation. God's Word -- Jesus -- is the divine instrument bringing us to life, even if, momentarily, our peace is disturbed. When Jesus looked across the night fire into Peter's eyes, we can feel the division of that glance. Unlike Judas who saw only his betrayal of Jesus, Peter saw within that gaze the eyes of compassion and forgiveness.
I believe that it is a good spiritual exercise for all Christians to ask what has God called us to be and to do? Why have we come upon this earth?
I also believe that Christians should stand up for what is morally right in our culture and since this is election year, Christians should vote with the moral convictions of their faith. That, in my opinion, is one example of the "good" fight.
(c) Judi Lynn Lake 2008
Judi Lynn Lake has kept up with leading edge business trends throughout her varied and successful career. She had already had her ‘15 minutes of fame’ over and over again before starting her family. Judi and her family now reside in South Carolina but, having been born and raised on Long Island, NY, it is clearly evident that she will always be a "New Yorker." Today, she successfully runs her own advertising agency which handles everything from logos, branding and package design while she continues to work closely with self-published authors from design to promotion.