Greg Boyd has been getting loads of feedback apparently about his entry entitled, “Washing Osama’s Feet”. Here is a link to his most recent entry, which is a follow up entry, entitled, “The Worst Heresy Imaginable”.
On Tuesday I didn’t manage to get up a Tuesday is for Thomas, but maybe, that wasn’t so bad. The question of ‘who is my neighbor’ and ‘who is my enemy’ is one that Jesus continually wants us to ask. In fact, from generation to generation, the answer to this question changes quite often. The portrait and conversation that Greg is having is quite a tough one in light of the person that Osama represents; however, we must ask the question, who is my enemy and how would Jesus ask me to treat them?
Thomas Merton, in 1961, was facing quite a different enemy. In fact, in his journal entry of 12 November of that year, he begins to wrestle with the way the enemy is illicting response from people within America..where he is living as an monk in Kentucky. He writes:
“I must pray more and more for courage, as I certainly have neither the courage nor the strength to follow the path that is certainly my duty.
With the fears and rages that possess so many confused people, if I say things that seem to threaten their interests or conflict with obsessions, then I will surely get it.
It is shocking that so many are convinced that Communists are about to invade or destroy America: “Christians” who think the only remedy is to destroy them first. Who thinks seriously of disarming? For whom it is more a pious wish, beyond the bounds of practicality?
I need patience to listen, to learn, to try to understand, and courage to take all the consequences and be really faithful. This alone is a full-time job. I dread it, but it must be done, and I don’t quite know how. To save my soul by trying to be one of those who spoke and worked for peace, not for madness and destruction.”
Indeed, knowing how to love as Christ would in this age of madness will be confuddled at best. People who choose to follow Christ’s call to love extravagantly will be persecuted for their sense of passionately offering grace as Jesus modeled. People who work to provide humanitarian kindness as Christians might be misunderstood as trying to replace the gospel with works. Neighbors will become enemies, enemies are already our friends, and maybe most confusing of all, which religion or nationality one possesses won’t mean squat.
As we move increasing towards the advent season, I hope that we will rediscover a ancient way of active longing. A longing that is described in Isaiah 2 as ‘for the last days’. A longing that led Jesus Christ to live in a particular way; a way which is a way of goodness, and mercy, and justice for all. A way of living which leads others to that discover that deep longing for the time when,
“The mountain of the LORD’s temple
will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.”
Indeed, may we reflect this season how Christ’s humble coming and practical demonstration has prepared us to live differently for our age. And how this living will call out to others, ‘there is another way,’ ‘we can achieve peace for our time.’ May we who can, do. May we who pray, seek. May we who love, love extravagantly.
may peace and grace be yours today as you seek to love all, and to serve all…